It’s only October and Halloween is right around the corner, so why am I seeing Christmas decorations? It seems each year retailers rush the holidays.
For some of us the holidays are not always happy times, for some we struggle with the loss of a loved one, or two and the reality sets in for the first time that your parents are gone. This is true for me. Both my parents are gone this year.
I haven’t had time to put in perspective the past year of craziness with my mother and her death, thoughts that still keep me up at night. It’s like a movie that plays and rewinds and I question every decision I made and examine my feelings. Then guilt sets in. What could I have done different? I will never know that answer in this lifetime.
No matter how troubled relationships are with our parents, when we lose one or both we lose a part of ourselves. We struggle to remember our childhood and the happy times we shared with our parents. And then we begin to remember times weren’t always so good. There were those groundings and fights and disagreements. There was the feeling of injustice when one parent sided with a sibling and not with you. Let’s face it, being a parent doesn’t come with a manual of instructions.
It’s strange going through their personal belongings and wondering what were they thinking back then. I have a picture on my computer of my mom and dad on their wedding day. They are standing in line and my dad reaches over and touches my mom’s cheek. They look so happy together and I can’t help but wonder as they smile and pose for the picture, what were they thinking as they were about to embark on their new life together?
Holidays were always filled with family and tradition. Lots of tradition. It was filled with cousins and playing and, of course, a ton of food, all cooked from scratch! Oh, how I miss those precious days of time spent with family. I miss my cousins, aunts and uncles, we were all such a motley crew. We were loud and constantly kidding around with one another.
Events and circumstances change a once happy family to one of discord, splitting siblings and parents. Sometimes communication ceases altogether turning a once happy family into a sad, unforgiving bunch of adults who can’t stand to be in the same room with one another. I know it’s not what my mom and dad intended to happen.
Throw a troubled child into the mix and life is never the same again. I resented being the oldest. Being the responsible adult. My dad and I had many heated conversations about my siblings and his disappointment in them. He used to say “What’s done is done”. So over the years resentment built up. My mom wanted me to let go of those feelings and I just couldn’t. Then she died.
After her death and a lot of talking to myself, I was finally able to just let go of the built up resentment. I don’t know why, but it felt good to be finally be free of those feelings. I can’t change the past, but I can change the future.
I don’t want to make the same mistake with my kids. I can see so clearly now all the mistakes I made, even though I thought I was doing the right thing. And as I try to keep the lines of communications open, the memory of all my discussions with my parents are more relevant now. It’s hard being a parent to your adult children, especially when there is only one of you. It’s like even though it’s just you, you are making up for the missing parent all the time. You see you children in a different light when they are older and you want to give them your words of wisdom but they are not ready just yet. They think they’ve got it all figured out. I know I did when I was their age.
There are boundaries that I work within and I’m careful not to overstep. Words have to be crafted, no more blurting out thoughts and opinions. I imagine it was difficult for my mom and dad to watch as I muddled through life knowing that soon life would bite back.
Parenting isn’t easy! And parents are not perfect. The lesson learned from my experience is this: If you’ve got conflicted feelings, talk. Don’t hold grudges, you are only hurting yourself. Once you let those good feelings in, it’s all uphill from there. Life is all about lessons. What have you learned from your lessons?