I was at a friend’s wedding a few years back when I had the most eye-opening and heart-opening conversation with the father of the bride. Everybody was dancing, but neither of us wanted to expose ourselves. There was a little boy at the table next to ours, who was running around every chance he could get; which kept his mother running too. I commented to the father of the bride that the toddler was so cute and he replied by asking if I wanted some children, and I confirmed I would love to. Then, he confessed that children were beautiful, but raising them was stressful. I asked him if it got better with time and he acquiesced and explained that as long as the parents taught good values to the children, there would not be much to worry about. Although, college could mess up all those values and make the child feel like they knew everything. At that point, he could not help but tell me how he felt about his daughter who had just got married. As he was sitting there watching her say her vows, and observing everything about her, he noticed that she did her hair in a similar style as when they were celebrating her first birthday. He saw the little girl and wondered what had happened to her. He recognized that his little princess had grown up and now was on track to start a family of her own.
It was hard not to feel his emotions. But more importantly, it made me think of my parents and other parents. As a child, we can see our parents’ mistakes. We compare what they are doing with what our friends’ parents do, or certain parents on television do. We make a list sometimes of what is wrong with our parents, and we judge them based on it. We don’t really see the other truth which is that they are doing the best they know to do. Every child is different, even kids coming from the same parents; but every day is different for parents, even if they are parenting only one child. And as time passes by, children evolve and change, making parenting a true Indiana Jones adventure. Maybe not half as dangerous, but just as unpredictable. Just like Indiana Jones looks forward to a reward or treasure, parents hope that they are doing enough and that one day the seeds they planted will bear fruits or flowers that will make the world a better place.
How do you grow a plant with love, without knowing what fruit or flower to expect out of it? Despite the numerous parenting books available, nobody can really predict with accuracy the future of a child. And, whether a pregnancy is planned or not, nobody or nothing can prepare parents to who their children will be and what they will require of them. I guess my point is that every parent whether we know it or not makes decision based on what they understand of their role. Are there children living in horrible conditions and experiencing horrible things? Absolutely yes! And we should protect them and show them that the world still holds a lot of magic. But, it appears that we all live our own version of horror. After all, every family is somewhat dysfunctional, depending on what you compare it to.
While a lot can be said about parents who fail to provide an appropriate environment for their children, the goal of my writing is to acknowledge the weight and responsibility that comes with being a parent, and to encourage those who want to take on that role to keep doing their best.
It is hard to be responsible for another human being when you are also in the process of figuring your life out. It is not easy to give love, when you don’t know what it is or looks like. Whether we grow up with our biological parents or the adoptive ones, or even with no official parental figure, whether they were horrible or decent or amazing, most of us turned okay. In other words, a lot of good can comes out of seemingly dysfunctional families.
So, if you have a father or mother figure in your life, remember to tell them how much you are thankful that despite “the fog”, they made you a decent human being. If you are a parent, don’t beat yourself up too much. And remember: we are all trying our best with what we know and if we want something better, we can always turn things around.