5 Truths About Your Parents (That No One Ever Tells You) - The Cat's Meow Blog at Allrecipes.com - 247771

The Cat's Meow

5 Truths About Your Parents (That No One Ever Tells You) 
Aug. 21, 2011 9:34 pm 
Updated: Aug. 24, 2011 5:17 pm
Isn't it great having parents? For your entire life you get these adoring, devoted followers who exist purely to shower you with adoration, approve of everything you do, and ensure your time on this planet is a luxurious romp filled with roses and chocolate-covered puppies.
HAHAHAHA. Yeah, mine aren't like that either. (Though, for the record, they're pretty great! Hear that Mom and Dad?!) Parents are sort of like your large intestine: Without them, you wouldn't be who you are (literally!) or have any ability to enjoy the things you do -- but you sort of wish you didn't have to know that.
When you're little, your parents are demigods, ruling your childhood universe. Then they're the evil oppressors who thwart your attempts to do fun things like snort highlighters and mainline tequila. Then they're the voices on the phone sighing heavily whenever you share your latest plan to go to grad school/start a tech company/teach English in Bora Bora. And finally, they gel into something like, "the people who screwed you up and gave you all the problems you have now."
The kicker is this: the relationship you have with your parents (whether it's through contact with them, or through silence) is setting the stage for everything else in your life. Like it or not, what you think about the people who brought you into the world colors what you think about everyone else. And if 5 minutes with them makes you want to cleave your forehead with a morningstar, well, chances are you have a few other relationships that continually suck. (If you're one of these ultra-evolved cenobites that has a blissful relationship with his/her parents, good for you. But for the vast hordes of the rest of us, it's not so simple.)
So here we go with 5 truths about your parents that no one tells you (but are nonetheless true).
1) Your parents are actual people.
Sure, it sounds obvious. Silly, even. But think about it in context: Your parents pooped diapers. Shoved grapes up their noses. Got sent to the office for pinching Billy Pinkus in 4th grade. Guzzled stolen vodka and puked on their prom date. Had sex in the back of a Subaru. Cheated on a biochem exam. Spent their first night at college sobbing from homesickness. Slept with someone they shouldn't have. Bombed a job interview. Fended off a too-friendly boss. Got dumped in a parking lot. Experienced the whole spectrum of human emotion that you know exists (because you've experienced it too). And to top it all off, they procreated (and then kept right on experiencing this spectrum, but behind your back).
If you cringe at the thought of ANY of the above happening, it's fine. You don't have to LIKE that your parents are fault-having world-fearing sex-loving people just like you -- you just have to acknowledge that it's true. And then treat them accordingly.
2) They're the only parents (and it's the only childhood) you're ever gonna get.

Lurking in the depths of our fantasy lives is this delightful specter ... the parents you wish you had. These uber-parents can quell any fear and dull any pain and answer any geometry problem and offer CEO-level advice in any work crisis, all while fixing your favorite dinner. They speak Mandarin and know Tae Kwon Do and appreciate your love for Pantera (but respectfully prefer Zeppelin and the Stones) and take a European attitude toward youth sex and drinking and practice nonstop meditation and yoga to maintain complete emotional balance so they can ALWAYS BE FOCUSED ON MEETING YOUR EVERY NEED.
Yeah let's face it -- the Parents You Wish You Had are friggin' awesome. Too bad they don't exist.
The ones that DO exist are flawed six ways from Sunday (see Truth #1) and will likely never change. They say the wrong thing and offer the wrong advice and have a limitless talent for making you feel like your life is a clogged septic tank. They brought a person (you) into the world and proceeded to stomp through your childhood leaving all sorts of emotional scars with absolutely no clue what they were doing, making every possible mistake and imprinting all sorts of evils on your vulnerable young mind. They spent your life acting like themselves, and you suffered for it.
But no matter how much resentment you harbor, or overcompensating success you acquire, or ex-spouses (aka, parent-substitutes) you leave in your wake, you will never get to trade in your parents for new ones. Even if you refuse to speak to them, they will always have that genetic and/or behavioral thumbprint on your life.Your childhood will never change, and neither will the people who ruled it.
So this leaves you with two options: 1) Thrash and writhe and curse your fate and spend your waking hours wishing things were different; or 2) accept that you got dealt a set of parents, and they're the only parents you're ever gonna get, so you may as well find some peace with them. Unless you want to have the same conversation with yourself (and everyone else) every day for the rest of your life: God if ONLY they'd just metamorphose into completely different people, THEN I'd have great parents and my life would be ultrasuperperfect.
Hint: You'll have a lot more happiness (and so will everyone who talks to you) if you choose option #2. Whether you choose to speak to your parents every day or once a year (or never) is none of my business - as long as you make peace with the fact that they are who they are, and they're yours, forever.
3) If you feel like doing something life-changing, try having a conversation with your parents as if they were people you'd just met.
Imagine you're at a dinner party. A FANCY one, filled with dapper people and invigorating conversation. You're seated next to a refined lady who happens to be the same age as your mom. How would you behave?
Now call your mom, and behave the exact same way. Crazytime, right?
We don't treat our parents like other people. We treat them FAR worse. Even if we're nice to their faces, we're bitching like crazy behind their backs. We do things to our parents we would NEVER do to anyone else. Like, you probably lifted some cash out of your mom's wallet at some point. Or some liquor from her house, or some food from her pantry, or some toilet paper from her hall closet. Can you imagine doing that to Dinner Party Lady? Yeah -- it's called a night in jail.
But our parents never called the cops on us, despite our thieving ways. Which counts for something, right? So call them up, and act like you're there to make a good impression Sure, it'll take something -- some patience, even more generosity -- but it's amazing how much you can learn about the people you've known since the day you were born, just by listening to them as if they were real people.
4) No matter what brand of craziness your parents may have instilled in you, it's on you to un-instill it.
A friend of mine never uses dryer sheets. Why? She'd been told they were poisonous. Or rather, her mom decided in the early '80s that she didn't like dryer sheets, so she told her eight-year-old "we're not buying those, they're poisonous." And her child BELIEVED her, for the simple reason that children are dumb.
Here that child was, 30 years later, still convinced that dryer sheets were coated with a rare flesh-eating acid. My friend is a brilliant woman, but her mom taught her something silly, and she never took the time to un-learn it.
We're all basically walking blobs of poisonous dryer sheets -- filled with varying degrees of misinformation that our parents fed to us, and stumbling through life as if all of it was true.
It's time to sort through what's true and what's not (or rather, what's useful and helpful, and what's not). Your parents taught you whatever they taught you (sometimes intentionally, oftentimes by accident), and you swallowed it and imprinted it on your psyche for all eternity. But now you have a choice: take that imprint and live as if it's reality, or simply put it aside. If your mom raised you to fear Arab people because she does (as she was taught to do by her mother) then it's on you to reconsider her teachings. If your dad raised you never to trust women after that "lazy wench of a mom" walked out when you were 14? Well, perhaps it's time to evaluate whether that lesson is working as far as your ability to have good relationships (I can assure you it isn't).
Your parents doled out thousands of lessons. And the chances are high they had NO clue what kind of impact those lessons would have on you years later. Or maybe they did have a clue. Either way, there's no changing the past (see Truth #2). But on the plus side, we do have some say over the present.
5) If you're a legal adult, you no longer get to blame your parents.
The statute of limitations on blaming your parents for your bad behavior runs out at around ninth grade. After that, you're a sentient being performing actions that have consequences. (Sorry!)
Bottom line: Your parents may be raging loonbags. But they also love you - they can't help it, it's a biological imperative. So quit blaming them for everything that's not working in your life -- it's not doing you any good. Plus, no one wants to hear it. We're all busy figuring out how to deal with our own crazy parents.
Aug. 22, 2011 3:31 am
WELL SAID!!I am glad I found this to start my morning in a constructively hilarious way!! My parents are gone, but I am that aging parent-grandparent who managed to raise 2 children and am helping raise 6 grandchildren without doing any "physical" damage to them. Life "cycles on" whether we participate correctly or not. I love #3, having had the same thoughts myself. It's amazing how we forget to treat those closest as poliyely and kindly as we would total strangers!
Aug. 22, 2011 3:31 am
Brilliant, Kitten! By the way, how old were you when you had your epiphany? I remember the day clearer than I remember yesterday! I was about 33, on the phone with my pastor, and he said, "There are some things you will never get from your father. You just have to love him anyway--that's unconditional love. And if your parents can't model it for you, then perhaps you can model it for them." Your words will turn the light on for someone, I know it! As the Buddhists say, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." Thanks, Kitten, this is several years of therapy in a few paragraphs!
Aug. 22, 2011 3:32 am
...POLITELY (not poliyely... it's 6:30 a.m. here!)
Aug. 22, 2011 3:53 am
Life is an endless realm of possibilities! I'm at the state where I can appreciate all that my parents have done for me, or at least tried to do. Some things I would have handled differently, but that is what makes us individuals. I'm glad my folks have had the opportunity to know and appreciate their parents and grandparents, as well as know and appriciate their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren!
Aug. 22, 2011 5:50 am
I still struggle with the 'letting go' part. Yeah, I know, I'm 57, enough already. Sometimes I can't quite stifle the urge to tell my mother how this or that comment scarred my psyche. And to my ever-lasting shame I sometimes share these tales with other people. But I'm working on it, and getting better at stifling the urge. What I really want is a silver bullet that will make me FORGET the comment. That would be nice. In the meantime, thank you, Kitten, for reminding me that when she says she never said this or that, she likely wasn't even aware of saying anything hurtful at the time. I'm adult enough to realize that no apology will ever make me forget, so it's on me to forgive and for chrissakes, just get over it. But still, that silver bullet would be nice. And for the record? My mom is terrific, and I had a completely normal, blissful childhood, with 99.9% pure happy memories. She's great!
Aug. 22, 2011 6:53 am
Great blog, Kitten! I always say that when you grow up your a mix of everything your parents were, and everything they're not, for better or for worse. My mother grew up in foster care, for the most part, and I always wondered how she, as well as her siblings, learned to be a parent - her mother died when my mom was 4, and all ten kids got split up into various foster situations, none of which were good situations. But I look at her family and all I see are happy childhood memories with all my cousins, aunts and uncles, and everyone grew up to be kind, respectable people. My husband struggles with bad feelings towards his parents and childhood, and I try to keep reminding him that he turned out to be the opposite of his parents in many ways because of those bad memories.
Aug. 22, 2011 7:25 am
Great advice Kitten. Loved reading it!
Aug. 22, 2011 8:50 am
Thank you Kitten.
Aug. 22, 2011 9:29 am
I am going to share the link to your blog on facebook... my husband will love it! It's amazing how stupid and ignorant one becomes when their daughter is 21 years old...
Aug. 22, 2011 11:19 am
i never think how my parent screwed me up. my father died to me when i was 4...so no connection there. but i agree family connections are very important. i am now trying to start new traditions for my gals. the wife is a yankee, and it seems they don't care about traditions as much as we do in the south...so sad. anyways, i have to make some very big/ life changing decisions very soon...i want the daughters to keep this historic home and raise grand-children here as i hope it will happen to me.
Aug. 23, 2011 9:58 am
Such a great blog Kitten! It's so funny how as we get older we see things our parents did/do and think "we'll never do that" and resentment grows...I recently read that you should treat your parents like you would a stranger (much like your blog) and it's so true. It's sad that we are kinder to complete strangers than we are our own parents, kids, spouses, etc. I was raised in a loving home, and can't complain too much, but every once in a while, something irkes me just right...but keeping in mind that I would laugh it off if it were a friends parent, I try to keep the peace. I can't imagine the day when I don't have family there to drive me nuts! Thanks for the reminder that we all have the goofies to deal with! :)
Aug. 23, 2011 5:40 pm
Thank you all for your kind words and glad you enjoyed the blog or the blog struck a few cords for you.
Aug. 24, 2011 8:47 am
what a nice way to view it... thanks! :)
Aug. 24, 2011 5:17 pm
Awesome. My parents have been dead for many years. I wish my DD who is currently not wanting to speak to her parents would read this.
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About Me
Well, I'm a Boise, Idaho transplanted native originally from California. I grew up in San Jose until the 4th grade then the folks mover to the Turlock/Delhi area; about 80 miles south os Sacramento. I definitely believe there is still a lot of Californai Girl in me, but I do love Idaho. I am the mother of 2 and grandmother of 3. I like to read, Oh, especially old English Poetry. Lordy, I just melt when I read one of Shakespeare's sonnets or John Donne's poetry and Lord Byron. I enjoy sewing, crocheting, and quilting. I think life is taken way too seriously; sure there are serious things in life, but you still need to laugh. I also wish the world could just be one big "Brady Bunch". I am a hopeless optimist and figure things could be worse. And, I think everyday has the ability to be a good day. If you woke up alive and everyone you care about woke up alive then, it's a good day. Geeze, even a broken clock is right twice.
My favorite things to cook
I enjoy cooking challenging things. Not the every day stuff that you can do blindfolded. And I love to make my dishes look good. I'm not sure I have favorites. During the winter I like to make what I call one pan dinners. Stews, soups and things in large bubbly pans.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My family doesn't have any long standing traditions but my husbands family does and I have, with the help of my sainted mother-in-law and sweetheart husband, learned to cook some of them. When his family gets together for the holidays, I love to help my sisters-in-law make the dinner. They are all German Mennonite and I love their traditions. They make dished for the holidays that they made before they came to America. That's cool.
My cooking triumphs
Having my mother-in-law ask me to bring a family favorite to a large family Christmas gathering when everyone else was raised in a German Mennonite commuinty and grew up with the food and I didn't.
My cooking tragedies
Somehow, I always seem to set fire to something during the holidays. It's usually the sweet potatoes either before they go into the oven or the marshmellows when I am going to toast them.
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