Monday, May 07, 2007

Let Us Now Praise

Let us now praise ones of renown and our forebears in their generation.

I am blessed to have wonderful, normal, sane parents. Over the last years, I have met so many people whose parents are abusive, neglectful, mean, controlling, strange, mentally unbalanced, or a host of other things. I've seen friends deal with the various ways their parents' problems make their lives more complicated, and try to fight their ways out of nasty old habits. It looks terrible and hard.

My father's family is fairly well-adjusted. Grandpa died when Dad was eighteen; they had to sell the farm, and Nanna worked three jobs to put her kids through college. My mother's family is a mess. Her father... well, I've never met him and don't know his name.

And coming from this? Mom stayed home and made us cookies after school, and taught us to sew and find journal articles and do science research. Dad taught us to change tires, solder, do carpentry, fix plumbing, garden, drive, read Sherlock Holmes, and appreciate Jimi Hendrix. We took art classes, ran around at the river, looked at pond ooze under microscopes, volunteered with the homeless, and got very grubby indeed. We had a dog and a garden and kittens.

They taught me responsibility, caring, service, and enough practical skills to skin a horse with. They love me whatever my choices, and they respect my choices. I love them a great deal, and I also think they did a damn good job at parenting. They have always let me make my own mistakes. I had no idea how rare and valuable this is.

Every time I hear someone tell me how her father called her a 'parasite',
or how his cousin mocks him in front of the family, or how her mother discourses on the wrongness of her every little decision, or how her mother abandoned her with strangers in Kansas*, I am sad that any child (and adult) would have to endure this. I am heartbroken to hear that parents could treat their children so.

And every time, I am that much more grateful for my own family.

*True story.