Last weekend I made the trip home from school to attend a Fleetwood Mac concert with…. wait for it…. my parents. Which I know may seem like something most 21 year olds wouldn’t exactly be enthusiastic about, but let me tell ya; it was a hoot my friends. Not only did I get to see one of my favourite bands live, but I got to experience it with the man who used to force me to listen to go your own way and holiday road on early weekend mornings. It was just one of those weekends where you really sit back and take in all that you have been given, and you are able to, for one quick moment, realize how truly extraordinary your ordinary life is…. not to quote my last blog, but its true!!!!
When I was little my dad and I would always listen to music. It was our thing… at least I remember it as our thing. One of my favourite stories, told as I remember it, is when my parents wanted to buy me a radio for my birthday. My mom expected my dad to go out and buy some pink little barbie thing, but he came back with this massive black boombox. I remember listening to Amber’s dance rendition of if you could read my mind love, which I believe was the first song I ever learned all the lyrics to. The musical tradition continued. Being woken up on Sundays by whatever song my dad had chosen to blare that morning, some days his choices were questionable numbers all in Italian, others they were songs that I continue to love today. And as much as I would complain about being woken up in such a way, I have to admit that its these sort of moments I miss when I am away at school. Seeing the way my dad gets excited about a funky beat or a classic he rediscovered that morning, the way he does his goofy little dance and then tries to convince my mom, much to her annoyance, to dance with him.
My dad inspired a love of music within me. A love for all types of music, and while we butted heads for most of my life, we have always shared this bond, which I think is really nice. Its weird how you reach a point in your life when you begin to see your parents on a semi-equal level, recognizing them as people with flaws and weaknesses. But you also begin to see them as friends. As people to joke around with, to get drunk with, to order pizza to the hotel at 1 am with. Last weekend was fun. “Fun” is such a simple and juvenile word it seems, however there really isn’t another quite as fitting. The older I get the more I find myself wanting to spend time with my parents, enjoying and valuing their company, sometimes even over that of my peers.
I’ll never forget how incredibly comforting it felt when I was able to go to my parents and say “I’m not happy. I think this is why. I think this is what I need to do, and I need to talk about it.” I consider myself lucky to have parents who somewhere along the way managed to make me feel as though I could go to them and talk about my life and what was hurting me in such an open and honest way. To have parents that even though they were able to realize the roots of my unhappiness, respected my autonomy enough to allow me to come to my own conclusions, to make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes. And how happy am I to have made some of the mistakes I have. Because it is our mistakes that make up who we are too.
I often find myself wondering whether my parents are truly happy with their lives. Whether this is what they dreamed of for their future, or do they feel they wasted their time and it is simply too late. I used to admit that my biggest fear was becoming my mother, because I never saw her as wholly happy and fulfilled. She always lived her life for my siblings and I, and I always worried that because of that she lost herself along the way. Last weekend I realized how incredibly mistaken I have been. My parents are happy. They are fulfilled. They have accomplished so much. I don’t think anyone’s future is ever what they envisioned it as being when they were twenty one years old. Life happens, opportunities present themselves and decisions are made. Dreams are given up on, job offers are presented, people break up , people get pregnant, people move, people die. But that doesn’t make a life any less fabulous or worthy. It makes it real, something much much more than the young daydreams could have delivered.
I admire my parents in their ability to have found such happiness where I had once considered it to be impossible to find. I’m ashamed that I at one point didn’t see their lives as capable of producing a certain kind of happiness, ashamed that I feared becoming them. How lucky I would be to lead a life half as rich in love and happiness as theirs has been. How lucky I would be to grow up to be as skilled and hardworking as my father, or as kind and generous as my mother. To lead my life with the sole purpose of giving my children the best possible.
When I got sick my mom slept on a chair beside my hospital bed for seven straight nights. My dad had to go away on business and whenever he phoned I swear I could hear his tears over the phone. I used to tell people I didn’t want to get married or have children. That I planned on being Oprah, and having my perfectly supportive and handsome Stedman expertly situated by my side, with no need for a certificate or miniature versions of ourselves to feel fulfilled. Something about being sick and wondering for a split second whether the option to even have children had been taken away from me, mixed with the strength of the love and worry from my parents changed me. What an incredible privilege it would be to one day have the opportunity to create something so beautiful and share with him or her all that my parents have with me. To be able to experience and feel that kind of love. To be able to force them to listen to mine and my father’s music early Sunday mornings. To go to concerts with them, take them to the casino for the first time. To laugh and drink and play and not just be parents and children, but to be people together, who enjoy being in one another’s company.
They’re not perfect. They don’t always get it right. But they are my parents. So much of who I am is because of who they are. And of that I am proud. Thank you both for so much. I love you, like never before.
For you, there’ll be no more crying,
For you, the sun will be shining,
And I feel that when I’m with you,
It’s alright, I know it’s right
To you, I’ll give the world
to you, I’ll never be cold
‘Cause I feel that when I’m with you,
It’s alright, I know it’s right.
And the songbirds are singing,
Like they know the score,
And I love you, I love you, I love you,
Like never before.
And I wish you all the love in the world,
But most of all, I wish it from myself.
And the songbirds keep singing,
Like they know the score,
And I love you, I love you, I love you,
Like never before, like never before.