Monday, August 5, 2013

Childhood through Adult Eyes

 For the Mondays in August we'll be looking at being adult children.

As a little girl, my Dad could do no wrong. He was Superman. I was definitely a Daddy's Girl. When I read Greek mythology, I immediately identified with the goddess Athena, I was a smart girl and she was the goddess of reason and intellect. She also emerged fully-grown from her father Zeus's head, the ultimate Daddy's girl.

My mom was definitely a role model: strong, articulate and funny, she was someone to admire ... and I did. As an only child, these two were my world and it was a beautiful world. When my mom started suffering the effects of diabetes when I was about 13, that world shattered. As she declined in health, I was forced to grow up before I was really ready and part of growing up meant taking off the rose-colored glasses and realizing that my parents were, first and foremost, people.

Parents are people. They are fallible. They make mistakes. They make bad choices. They are just like you and I. Over the years, I have learned a lot about my parents as far as their pasts and their future.

When my mother died, I was 15 and briefly saw a therapist. In the midst of full-blown grief, there wasn't much she could do for me. However, she told me one thing that I've never forgotten. She said, "Remember your mother as the woman she was, the good and the bad. Do not make her a saint in death that she wasn't in life."

So while I remember her as the dynamic firecracker that she was. I also remember she could be moody at times and while she wanted me to live up to my potential, she might have pushed me too hard at times. My father was a great dad but he wasn't always a great husband. That's real. They did the best that they could but they weren't perfect. They couldn't raise me perfectly because they weren't perfect people.

I am blessed and fortunate that I never suffered any abuse. I cannot image what it would be like to have suffered and lived through that. I don't even know how to begin to address it. However, I will say this. I am a strong believer in therapy. I've had it in the past and I have it now. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes seeking help is the strongest thing you can do for yourself and those around you.

Your family and friends can't always help you in the way you need help ...  but a good trained professional can. I believe in prayer and faith but I also believe that God puts the people and circumstances in our lives that can help us, we just have to reach out for them.

As we become adults, and in most cases parents, we see our parents through different eyes, it's part of growing up. In healthy situations you get to know them on a different level. My father isn't just my father now. He's my friend and that couldn't have happened when I was a little girl. He's no longer Superman; he's a man ... a good man but far from a perfect man. I wish I had had the opportunity to know my mother as the complex woman I know she was.

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