It All Changes

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It is an eye-opening moment the day you discover your parents are real people. You actually didn’t appear in a cabbage patch, but YOUR PARENTS had . . . sex!  Ewww. You realize that a time existed when you were not the center of their universe and life did not revolve around getting you to practice on time or refereeing sibling shouting matches. Something happens and you see through the parental veneer to the man or woman responsible for giving you life. They do something “normal” and it makes you realize that, “My parents are actually PEOPLE.” It marks a transition from parent as abject object of worship to parent as person who loves me but still has issues of his or her own. A bitter divorce will bring this particular realization about real quick and in some more of a hurry. Sometimes it’s simple; sometimes . . . it’s a bit more complex. No matter how it happens though, your relationship with your parents is never the same.

It is a heart-warming moment the day your parents treat you as an equal. Maybe Dad offers you a beer or Mom doesn’t ask you to leave the room when the gossip topics get R to X rated. Whatever the case, you know when it happens. It’s a subtle shift in how they look at you and how they treat you. You’re not just their child anymore, you’re a member of the club of adults. To use an image from the “olden days,” it was when you were allowed to be heard and not just seen. Sometimes, some truly glorious times, you end up having not just a parent but an incredible friend who already knows all your stories because they were at the center of so many of them. No matter how it happens though, your relationship with your parents is never the same.

It is a gut-wrenching moment the day your role switches with your parent. Mama wants your advice or asks if you will, “just handle this.” Maybe Dad can’t go all day in the yard and you need to come over and take care of trimming the holly bushes. Often, it around the time the folks don’t insist on everyone coming “home” for the holidays but instead let “one of the children host this year.” Sometimes, you catch a grimace of pain or come in unannounced and find Mama taking a breathing treatment you didn’t know she needed. Sooner or later, you’ll taste the hideous, coppery tang of fear when you realize that this once invincible tower of strength and safety is beginning to crumble. Instead of drying your tears when you skinned your knee, you you dry their tears when they can’t quite remember the recipe for your favorite cake. We laugh and joke during the good times about how our parents had better be good to us because we are going to pick out their nursing home one day. The joke isn’t quite as funny when the day actually comes that you have to leave them and when you look at the expression on their faces and they tears in their eyes, you know EXACTLY how they felt looking at you on your first day of school. Unfortunately, a big yellow bus isn’t going to bring them home to milk and cookies and maybe a nap or a game before homework and supper time. In place of the big yellow bus will be a long black limousine and you will have a new standard of loneliness to measure things against in your life. No matter how it happens though, your relationship with your parents is never the same.

Once the changes start, your relationship with your parents is never the same.

Love y’all and don’t forget to wash your feet.

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