Growing Up Grateful

2010 October 16

Maybe it’s because family has been on my mind this week. Or maybe it’s because my mother just celebrated a birthday a couple of days ago and my father will celebrate one in less than a month. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading about other people’s less than idyllic upbringings and feeling pretty flippin’ lucky by comparison. In any case, I’ve been thinking lately that I owe the people who brought me into this world a major debt of gratitude. I may occasionally disagree vociferously with their advice (they’re used to this), but that doesn’t dim my appreciation for the fact that they care enough to offer it. In no particular order, a handful of parental provisions for which I’m very grateful:

Photo by Darwin Bell

The belief that I could do and be any damn thing in the whole damn world
Maybe I’ve internalized this one a bit too much, because I still believe my own hype a little more than is ego-appropriate. In all my years on earth, however, I’ve never doubted my own merits and my (sometimes untapped) capacity for awesome. Props to the parents for teaching me that from Day 1.

A pressure-free space to find my own way
Did you know some people’s parents hector them about settling down, finding someone, getting married, having babies? If my parents ever raised these issues, it would be a sure sign that they’d both developed brain tumors. My mother has the uncanniest people-reading skills that you’ll ever come across and is on record (many times) as saying she’d much rather any of her offspring stay perpetually single than get hooked up with card-carrying douches.

The knowledge that I’ll always have a soft place to land
Sure, I’m not hankering to take up residence on the rec room couch in the near future, but I know that option is always there if I need it and that it will be given freely without shaming or recrimination. It’s nice to prove Thomas Wolfe at least a little bit wrong.

The understanding that you do it because it needs to get done
You might not want to, you might kvetch and kick up a fuss, but you will do it, because there really is no other option. Shirking responsibility doesn’t enter into the equation.

For better or worse, what have you learned from your folks?

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5 Responses
  1. 2010 October 16

    What they teach you and what they should teach, might not be the same thing =)

    Hopefully they learned and passed on the idea of respecting boundaries, and having limits, rather than making unreasonable demands and imposing them. ‘You do it because it needs to get done’ can quickly turn into something more harmful in my opinion.

    Nice post and thought provoking.

  2. 2010 October 16
    Anonymous permalink

    I’ve actually written about boundary setting (for which my mother gets a lot of credit) in the past: Definitely not an easy lesson for many folks.

    And you’re right, there’s a fine line between having a sense of responsibility/accountability and understanding the weight of giving someone your word vs. feeling as if you have to shoulder every demand and expectation (no matter how overwhelming or unreasonable) that comes your way. Being willing and able to say no is something that gets a lot of airtime here on GenMeh, fortunately:)

  3. 2010 October 16

    You expect that kind of stuff from friends, but it hurts even harder when it is family. I think the trick is to learn to look after yourself and set the boundaries for others, and to start with them high. No is the answer that you need to give most of the time. People suck hahaahah Thanks for not sucking so much!

  4. 2010 October 19
    Coggie permalink

    Okay, M, this is a tough question for me as you know. But one comes to mind immediately:

    1. My father taught me how to play any sport. He was the best coach ever. Every team he coached, be it basketball, baseball or football, he led to the division or league championship. His team didn’t have all winners in it either. He knew how to coach right, with everybody getting to play, playing to their strengths. Unlike his personal life, he was kind, patient, and wonderfully insightful with the boys he coached, and even with me when I used to play softball and basketball. I was raised with a healthy appreciation for sports and sportsmanship.

    2. Both my parents instilled in me, often to my detriment (I am incapable of relaxing completely) to get the task done. It didn’t matter if I was missing a limb or suffering from swine flu, if a job had to be done (like your parents instilled in you, but to a lesser intensity than mine), you did it, no complaining, and you did it on time or preferably WAY BEFORE THE DEADLINE.

    3. Hospitality. As abusive as they could be with me and my brother, they were also expansively hospitable. Everybody invited into our home ate and ate well. I still love to over-feed people and invite them to stay over. Nobody takes us up on our offer because they’re not used to it and they think we’re kidding (we’re not). We’re also generous to a fault. That was my dad with his friends.

  5. 2010 October 19
    Anonymous permalink

    I keep wanting to mention to you that you should consider volunteering to coach mini soccer. And don’t give me any BS about needing experience or outstanding athleticism, because I know the system;) It’s all about who is invested in the game and committed to providing an opportunity for the kids that combines, fun, fair play and real life lessons about teamwork, respect and sportsmanship. In other words, you’d do a great job.