So my parents have arrived in Springtown today. Brooke is incredibly excited, she loves when they come to visit. It's hard for her as she only gets to see them about once a year since they live overseas. She actually hasn't visited with my Dad for two years now, although she does talk to both of them periodically on the web cam. Last year she was shy when they showed up, and today they picked her up from daycare with Jenny and she was very excited. We've had a chart the last week and have been counting down the days.
I'd say I have a good relationship with my parents. I feel that my mom, dad and I all respect each other and able to talk about serious and important things. That we're able to be honest and open with each other while being comfortable in our discussions. This hasn't always been the case. Perhaps because I know that this used to be unacceptable is what makes me notice it now. Maybe it's because Jenny and I are friends with many couples that are significantly older than we are that I feel comfortable just hanging out and talking with my parents. I don't know, but several of our friends do point out periodically that they're old enough to be our parents, or that they've been together as long as Jenny and I have been alive, etc etc.
Anyway, my relationship with my parents hasn't always been that great. I do remember the turning point in it though. I was a sophomore in college and I don't know the exact circumstances that led to it, but I wrote a long email to my dad one day. I guess I was reminiscing about growing up and living at home, but I wasn't exactly homesick. I just felt that I had never properly given him acknowledgment for being there for me...you know? So I wrote this long email telling him about significant memories I had of him, things that I remember he taught me, life lessons that stuck with me then (and still do), thanking him for being a dad that was involved and around and genuinely cared for me and my brothers. I wanted him to feel that he had done a good job. To feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
I had never communicated with my dad in this fashion before, and he was caught off guard by it. He called me later that evening very shaken up by it. He thought that the letter was a dramatic way of me "saying my goodbyes" and that I was going to kill myself. He was very emotionally distraught and took a bit of convincing that that wasn't the case.
I suppose it was a natural reaction. I never really talked about anything significant before with him. I wasn't depressed or anything, I just wasn't a very emotionally open person. I'm still not. That's always been one of my shortcomings; I keep most thoughts, problems, issues to myself. So suddenly telling my dad all of these important things was very out of character for me and it threw out a giant warning siren telling him that something was wrong.
I don't fault him for thinking that, in fact it showed a little more about his character. I saw it as even though he was reading about all these positive memories I had of him, all he ended up doing was worrying about me. That he didn't get into the pride or a sense of accomplishment because he didn't feel that his job was over. That he still needed to take care of me and look out for me.
I hope I can be that selfless in my thoughts and desires with Brooke as my dad has been with me. I think of how much easier and different growing up would have been if I had only felt comfortable to talk to my parents about actual problems as opposed to surface level nonsense. I hope (maybe foolishly) that I can create an environment for Brooke where she'll feel able to as she's growing up. At least a little bit.
You sometimes hear parents say to their kids when they are angry that they hope "one day you'll have kids who behave just like you do." They pronounce it over their children as if it's some kind of curse....usually because their kids are being tremendous tools at the time. I hope to be the same kind of parent to Brooke as my parents are to me. I just hope that it doesn't have to wait until she's almost 20 (or later) before it happens.