“Home is where the heart is,” “the family that prays together stays together,” “home away from home.” All idioms or expressions that remind us of where and who we came from. And while we may try to run away, forget, or erase our roots, we are always tied in some way our point of origin. Some spend their entire lives fighting it to the point where they lose sight of who they are now because they spend all their time trying to abandon who they once were. It took fewer years than the average person for me to appreciate my home base, and for that I am lucky. As I trek back home for a few days to re-center before a career change embarkment, I know I am a fortunate daughter.
Now I have strayed from some of the foundations I was familiarized with in my youth, whether that being the “out of sight, out of mind” principle, or through deliberate separation. But it doesn’t disrespect the positive evolution of the relationship I have with my family.
I was talking to an old friend of mine from back in high school who lives in my town now. We identified three different kinds of parents of the people in our friend group growing up. There were: 1) the parents who knew who their children were, 2) the parents who didn’t want to know who they were, and 3) the parents who were in denial about who they were. I was lucky to get the first kind. But I also witnessed many cases of the other two types. And more often than not, the parents who either denied or refused who their children were, they were not able to save them.
I will admit that a guilty pleasure of mine in my adolescent years was the TV soap opera drama of the late-2000’s, Gossip Girl. There’s a great line in the fourth episode of the first season provided by Kristen Bell’s voiceover of the eponymous narrator; “In every girl’s life there comes a moment when she realizes that her mother just might be more messed up than she is.” Now I don’t necessarily think that to be true of my own mother. We are messed up in varied patterns of crazy, but it is hard for the average girl to comprehend that her mom had a past of her own making before the daughter came to existence. Just like parents have to come to terms with who their children are to become, their offspring need to appreciate that their caregivers did not just spring up out of the ground the day they were born.
All the while I reflect on my childhood, I could romanticize the beauty of youth growing up in an idyllic setting of the suburban Midwest. But there are sore spots. There are parts I would never wish to revisit and there are periods even the softest of rose-colored glasses could not clean up. However, I choose to honor what those years and tears and screams and laughs and moments of breathlessness turned me into. My parents flatter me with the compliment that I am the best of the two of them. And while that is a lovely thought to consider as true, I do believe that I also inherited some of the faults of them too.
I don’t hold that against them. In fact, I thank them for it. The collaboration of their personalities has led me to tap into new pursuits and instincts that they are proud to see me chase. I can only hope that they stick around as long as possible so they can see what they made go as far as she can in life.