Sunday, June 27, 2010
Being with my parents is a nice reminder of "the way we were" and a reminder of how my parents put up with lots from my brothers that we are currently dealing with with a couple of my kids. Mind you, my bothers were both born to the same parents as I was -- the same exact gene pool -- they were healthily attached growing up -- and my mother hasn't had any alcohol in her entire life, so certainly there was no exposure in utero. They were raised in a very moral, conservative Christian home, just as I was. But their choices were so much different than mine.
One of my brothers, brilliant beyond brilliant, had a full ride scholarship to an Ivy League school which he finally quit having spent his first year, back in the early eighties, experimenting with large quantities of alcohol and many mind-altering drugs, LSD a personal favorite. He spent years hitchhiking around the country, getting odd jobs here and there, and hooking up with many various women, in and out of relationships. All the while very happy, he certainly was not living the moral lifestyle that my parents had dreamed for him. He hustled pool, gambled, and participated in a whole lot of things my parents definitely did not approve of.
When he was in high school I can remember the first time I saw the pill in his girlfriend's purse, and I was completely shocked. But what I am reminded of the most in regards to our current life, is the way that he would stay up all night and cook and mess up the kitchen. He was and is a wonderful cook who loved to experiment with all kinds of interesting new foods and spices, and when I came home on breaks from college I can remember hearing things sizzling at 3 a.m. and the house being filled with odd scents. He never asked permission and never thought about how it impacted anyone else in the house.
My youngest brother struggled in school. He absolutely hated school. He was also a "punk rocker" who wore his hair in an 18 inch striped raccoon mohawk. He was depressed a lot of the time, and lumbered around, bringing friends in and out who were very odd looking and smelling. They lived with my parents sometimes -- this was after the oldest of us had gone on and moved out -- and my parents were always compassionate and giving, welcoming people into our home whenever they needed a place. He finally finished his GED in his 20s, but still didn't move out.
In fact, the only way that my parents ever got him to move out was by selling the house out from under him and moving from Denver to Arizona. He had been renting for them in exchange for upkeep, but they weren't doing the upkeep and finally my parents just told him he would have to move because they didn't own the house any more. That seemed to work and since then he has been able to find enough work to keep himself in an apartment.
During the years of their greatest rebellion, in their teens and twenties, my parents did a lot of grieving. They were saddened, convinced that they had done something wrong. They cried and rethought every decision, wondering where they had gone wrong. They finally concluded that the boys had their own free will and that good parenting doesn't always equal good decisions on the part of children.
I write all this to remind myself that my parents put up with a LOT from my brothers -- many of the same things we are enduring. They still pray for them, believing they will "come around" some day. Maybe they will. At least both of them are not needing my parents money. ;-)
So maybe I should be a little more patient with the crazy behaviors of my kids. After all, even my parents who I think did everything right, had to deal with a lot of this. It's a healthy reminder that our role is to provide guidance and allow them to make choices, pray and hope for the best, and compassionately love and forgive when necessary. SOmetimes parenting isn't all it's cracked up to be. ;-)