Today, however, we are going to address Marge's meme challenge for the week. Marge has decided to single-handedly revolutionize memes as we know them; when Marge does something, you would be wise to follow her lead. (Thank you, Mommytime, for the refresher course in the proper usage of the almighty semi-colon. I hope I get a passing grade today.)
TOPIC: In raising you, what did your parents do right? What did your parents do wrong? If you are a parent, what are you doing differently?
I am not even going to touch the what did my parents do wrong? part. Procreating is what they did wrong, but I must admit that it worked out fairly well for me in the end. And the question of what I do differently? I basically take everything I ever learned about parenting from my parents and do the complete opposite. Turns out, the inside-out version of my parents is a damn fine version, indeed.
What I can talk about today is what they did right. It is a very short list, and short lists make for good blog-fodder. I have thought about this all week, and my goal was to find three things they did right. And it took me a whole week to figure that out. Here they are, in no particular order:
- My parents are both brilliant musicians. And by brilliant, I mean brilliant. Freakishly so. My mother's singing voice sounds almost exactly like Emmylou Harris, and my father plays a guitar at a skill level that would make Jimi Hendrix say, "Well, damn!" Music has always come naturally to them, and they definitely passed that onto us. Maybe we didn't have food every day, but we had two player pianos in the house. I fell asleep to band practice, I spent my Saturdays playing roadie to the band, putting together the drum kit and wiring the amps. The stereo was never not on. My childhood, however unpleasant, has the best soundtrack in the fucking universe. Every minute of my life was drowned in four-part harmonies. They taught us to love music, to really listen to it, to hear the subtleties and hidden details and to visualize compositions. It was a beautiful way to grow up, and no matter how many bad or painful memories I will have of my childhood, every one of them will be trumped by the memories of the sounds.
- They gave us religion. Of course, they gave us the entirely wrong religion, but still. I have learned through watching my children that the mind of a child is constantly reaching outward for something to touch. They want to know, they want there to be more. Children have perfect faith. They have to; they are helpless but for their parents. Raising my own children while being an atheist is truly a challenge for me because I want them to have that thing, that place in my heart that I had as a child, that love and comfort and peace that I felt simply because I believed in something larger than myself. And so, I give my own children religion. I give them all the religions, though, and I know that is not the same. Being raised in a really, really reclusive sort of cult, we were so indoctrinated in our belief structure that we could not see past it. Although I do not in any way approve of that sort of brain-washing now, I do understand why some people are drawn to it. It is a big, cozy, warn blanket under which you feel totally safe and loved. At my depths of the darkness in my life, I never once felt alone. I had belief, I had an absolute, and I am so grateful that both of my parents gave that to me.
- They were the model divorcees. My parents divorced when I was 6. My brother was 8; my younger brother and sister were 3 and 10 months. My parents had one single fight over custody which resolved itself in a day. My father gave my mother everything in the house, respecting that she had the children and therefore was in slightly more dire need of a washer and dryer than his bachelor self. They agreed immediately on visitation times, and never, ever once wavered from it. They only spoke to each other when it was absolutely necessary, they never talked about each other in front of us, in either a good or bad light. I think they were both just so damn happy to be rid of each other that when the opportunity struck, they glided through it with grace and ease. They respected each others roles as our parents, and they never undermined each other. Separated, they were better parents than they ever were together. They were united, they weren't so angry, they were a stronger front. The very best thing my parents ever did for us was break up, and we always knew it.
With that, I have officially said more nice things about my parents than I think I ever had before in my whole life. Thanks, Marge, for making me stop and think about this one. It actually was sort of nice.
If you'd like to share some of your stories, too, just go drop Marge a little comment and then post away.