We all have parents, there’s no doubt about that. Every single one of us is the result of two people mixing DNA in a process that can easily be described as messy. Our commonality ends there though, or rather the other thing we have in “common” is that none of us were parented the same way. Even children within the same family are parented in different fashions.
Case in point, my daughter, Electric, never had any sweets (that I know of) until her first birthday. Adorable, on the other hand, had cake well before her first birthday. It just didn’t seem fair for one to have cake and not the other. Watching Adorable eat a cupcake is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!
As I’ve been processing recent events I keep thinking back to an experience my family had in the late 1990’s through the early 2000’s that has had a really strong impact on me and how I view the challenges Nateanite and I have.
In 1999, after living in Spotsylvania, Virginia for two years while my dad was a Presidential Management Fellow with the United States Department of Agriculture, my parents felt a strong pull toward Northeastern Minnesota. My dad had lived there as a teenager and my parents lived in the Twin Cities early in their marriage. After a lot of consideration, accepting that it made absolutely no sense to make this move but that they needed to make it anyway, we (my parents, three sisters, 3-week old brother, and I) packed up and spent four days driving from Virginia to Buhl, Minnesota (home to the “Best Water in America”). (It is really good water.)
We lived with one of my aunts and uncles for months while my dad continued to live in Virginia, working in a job he hated and looking for a job in Minnesota. He finally joined us six months later for Christmas 1999. The period that followed was deeply challenging for all of us, but for my parents in particular. Years of unemployment or underemployment plagued our family. To say it was an exercise in survival and humility would definitely be accurate. When my dad was hired to teach Economics & Geography at Mesabi Range College in 2002 I can remember the excitement and the relief.
This is just a cliff notes version, there is no way to relay all the experiences (good and bad) that we had during this time. At least, definitely not in a blog post. But what I do want to relay from this experience is how important it is to give your all in a relationship and that sometimes you do have to make serious sacrifices to do what you feel in your gut is the right thing, even when your gut feeling has absolutely no logic to it at all.
Also, your all can look a lot different day-to-day based on what’s going on and that’s okay.
Finally, although my parents gave their all during this experience it is clear to me now as an adult that they often did so at the expense of themselves. Self-care is especially important if you are going through an extended period of struggling.
How have your parents shaped your way of being, particularly in challenging circumstances?