Saturday, June 21, 2008

Seeing Your Parents

Perhaps because so many people my age are having babies, I've been thinking about the other side of things: Parents. My Sister, for example, is a great mom. However, I know her simply as my Sister. I know her as the little girl who put orange slices in her mouth and smiled broadly, revealing her big orange peel grin. I know her as the girl who would run through the sprinkler and do hoola hoop gyrations in the front lawn. To me, she's the girl who would listen in on my phone conversations with RW in 7th grade.

So, I extrapolated to my own parents. My Mom was once a little girl who probably played dress up with her cousins. My Dad was once a teenager who could have gotten into scuffles at the school yard. It's hard to look at your parents as people...and not as Parents. Is it possible to see your parents as people?? Or will we always look at them through the lens of a child's eye?

I wonder if my Mom was scared when she went on her first date. Was my dad a heart breaker in grade school, or did he wish the Pretty Girl would say hello at lunch? Did they experiment with drugs? What did they talk about with their best friends? What were their aspirations when they were 12 and 13? What did they say about me and their lives the day I was born? Did they worry about the economy and the Vietnam War? Did my Mom get in trouble for wearing tube tops and hip huggers to school?

As I turned 30, I remembered my own parents turning 30. Well, I remember my Mom turning 30. I was 8. I don't have anyone to parent, so the dichotomy of Parent-Person didn't hit me. Until recently, I always looked at my Folks as Parents -- almost history-less and devoid of an individual personhood. I have had one candid conversation with my Mom a few years back, which helped put my Folks' lives into some historical context. And, hopefully, I will get the chance to know them a little more as people, though I suspect it will be hard to shed the child-colored glasses.


Julia said...

interesting thoughts. i agree, hard to see your parents as people other than parents. I think you can imagine it a little more the older you get.

I will always look at my brothers as the stud-muffin baseball players that they used to be, and my sister as the girl I followed and wanted to do everything just like she did! ;)

Lil Kate said...

I've found that as my parents (and even grandparents!) and I have more "adult" conversations (religion, politics, life choices, etc.) I can see them more as "people" who make mistakes, and have biases, and base their decisions on their life experiences. They're not always right, or good, or proper, or know what to do. A little disappointing on some level (as you let those child-lensed glasses fall) but welcoming at the same time - because now we're all on the same level.