Sunday, July 21, 2013

This week I'm grateful for...

my parents.

I have a friend who has been my friend for most of my whole life.

(Now you are wondering why I'm talking about old friends when this is supposed to be about my parents right? Patience.)

We went to the same school and the same church for most of our lives (and by most I mean we only really parted ways about seven years ago when she graduated college and I still had another year left) We even spent a year in the same house!
We aren't super good at staying in touch, but when we do reach out we always pick up just where we left off.

She's the kind of girl that growing up I was always intimidated by. She was smart. Super smart. Straight A's all the time.(which was no match for my frequent B's) She was super creative. (I did NOT want to sit next to here in art class because it was embarrassing. But really, I didn't want to sit next to anyone in art class because it was embarrassing.) She is tall and blonde and when we were 13 all the boys at the pool thought she was 15 and got all the attention. She was talkative and outgoing and popular.

We were friends, but I honestly didn't think I would ever measure up. I wasn't sure what I had to offer her.

Now that we are grown, she has done pretty well for herself. She lives close to her family, she has been successful in her career, she is still close friends with her closest friend from high school, she travels a lot with her husband, they own a cute little house, they have a dog.

The point is she is still super smart and super creative and outgoing and all those things that she was when we were kids.

But the past several times I've spoken with her she has said things like 'I'm so proud of you! I could never have done it (moved to Wyoming)!' And 'You've always been so independent. So proud of you for making the best of it' Things like that.

Things that are super nice to hear, and always have a little more weight to them when they come from A) people you like B) people who have known you a long time and who have been through things with you.

It was this weird sort of twist for is this friend that I have held in such esteem that I could not ever measure up to and now she is telling me that SHE is proud of ME? How did that happen?

And how did I get so independent? And am I actually that independent? More independent than my peers, some of whom I grew up with and felt like I was not as good as? Has that really been a good thing in my life?

Answer: PARENTS! (did you see it coming?)

They ALWAYS tell me (present tense) that I can do whatever I want to do. People hear that a lot. It's a phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit I think. Some parents say it and I'm not sure that they mean it. Some kids hear it and they don't actually believe it because of what ever other stuff is going on in their life and in their mind and their relationships.

But, me, I BELIEVED them. AND they MEANT it. They pushed my brother and I towards that. We always had to finish whatever thing we started (hello 2nd grade gymnastics that I hated and third year of college that felt like was the worst decision ever). But after we finished the thing we could choose to do something else. And when I had been in private school my whole life and in 9th grade I asked to go to public school for a variety reasons but none of my friends were really thinking about going at that time, they let me go. They made me save my money to buy my own car. We had conversations about what we were learning in school and theological debates at the dinner table. Everybody's point was valid. My brother and I learned to play devil's advocate from our dad.

Because of them encouraging and pushing and teaching I had the freedom to have big dreams for my life. And I'm sure part of that was built into me already. I'm sure because I'm a first born, I was born with some sort of desire need for independence...but it was shaped by parents who felt like I really was capable of anything and who felt like their main job was to prepare their kids to live independently from them, succeeding in the world.

In all the things I've done, places I've lived, challenges I've faced... I've heard my dad saying over and over 'You can do it, you can do it , you can do it, Ami' it's a like a mantra in my head. With my dad's voice that has slowly become my own, because these days I believe that I can do it. Whatever 'it' is. And, unlike elementary/middle/high school, it's totally ok if 'mine' isn't as good as 'yours'...because I'm not doing 'this' to beat you, or to prove my worth anymore (which ALWAYS worked failed in art class and PE). I'm doing it for myself. So when a bunch of super creative-artsy girls get together on a cold winter night on the top of a mountain to hang out, do art, and drink some wine while getting buried under a blanket of snow, I don't have a panic attack and I'm not embarrassed (anymore). I can do my own thing which is not nearly as good as everyone else's but still take pride in how I express myself and enjoy comments from others instead of feeling them as attacks to my self-worth. Comments like 'Ami, this looks like you need more color in your life'.  Which is true, I do. My living room is getting better but is still pretty black and white. And my painting was just burst after burst of color.

So. This week I'm grateful for parents who believe in me, who encourage me, who have pushed me to become who I am. Grateful for parents who taught me to think for myself, taught me how to independent, taught me how to love and be kind. Grateful for a dad who put that super positive tape in my head 'You can do it!' So many don't have that, and I am truly blessed for it.  Grateful for a mom who  listened. Who listens. Hears what I'm really trying to say. Also a mom who when you call her late one evening and say 'mom, listen. let's get a tattoo together because I'm going to Africa and I don't know how long I'll be gone, so let's get this thing together so we always have that' says 'how can I say no to that!' And now has a tatoo with you. (I'm still waiting for my dad to jump on the tatoo train with me...he is the only one in the family without one)

I didn't understand until I had my own kids.
Thanks for everything! There is no way I could ever get it all written down or ever pay you back.

PS If you like my writing, you should check out my mom's! It's where I get it.

It's a gardenia. It means 'lovely lady'.

1 comment:

  1. Way to make this momma cry first thing on a Monday morning! ;-)You're the best!