Having parents is kind of an alien concept to me.
Whenever I think of what it would be like to have parents, I kind of get this surreal feeling. Like, I can’t even figure the details of what that would be like. To have someone who bore me, raised me, has a thousand-and-three stories about what my first word was, how old I was when I took my first steps, how incredibly adorable I was…
What time of day I was born.
Seriously. My birth certificate doesn’t say what time I was born. Is that weird?
My parents divorced before I was four. I have no memories whatsoever of my father. He was granted zero visitation – monitored or otherwise – and zero custody. He did take me away from my home once, without my mother’s permission, while she was away one day. My sister made him take her too, so I was never alone with him. I was maybe five or six at the time. That was the last time I ever saw him (and any other “sightings” prior to that incident I could have totalled on one hand). I remember playing with a kid in his neighborhood, who in the course of our play dropped a huge rock on my head, and I took a nap in his guest room to sleep THAT little experience off (hello? napping after a head injury?). I don’t remember his voice or appearance or any other thing at all about him or about that day. For my whole life I was aware that my father lived in the same town as I did, but I never saw him. I wouldn’t know him if I fell over him. I apparently have half-brothers and half-sisters that I’ve never met.
The sister I DO have does not share the same father with me, as it happens (something I didn’t know until I was twelve). Not long after Grandma died my sister came out to Arizona for a visit, and we had several tough conversations. She told me about how my father abused her, which was the reason for my parents’ divorce and his complete alienation from my life. So, I’m not particularly interested in having any contact with him, anyway.
My family. It sure does like its secrets.
My mother died when I was eight, and I have vague recollections – feelings, more like – of what it was like to have a mother. From what I can recall, and from some of the things my sister told me, she wasn’t around much anyway. If she wasn’t working her night job, she was asleep. If she wasn’t working or asleep, she was at the Legion. So it was my sister’s job, being ten years older than me, to look after me. Although, hah, her idea of “babysitting” was to just throw knock-down drag-out house parties, since she was stuck at home watching me. Which is why she got in trouble and ran away at sixteen. After which most of my “babysitting” was done either by a nearby aunt, or by my grandmother.
After my mother died, I had my grandmother to raise me, so when I get to missing a maternal figure, it’s usually my grandmother that I miss. She was almost a bigger fixture in my life when my mother was alive, and she then raised me from the age of eight until I got married at seventeen, so I’ve gotten over feeling guilty that I miss her more than I miss my own mother.
Yes, I felt guilty. I had therapy. I got over it.
So, there was nothing about my childhood or upbringing that one could say even approached conventional. While lacking parents I never lacked parenting. So whatever it was I was missing about having a mother and father remained vague to me for a very long time.
Actually, it’s still kind of vague to me. Which is probably why I’ve spent the last several days struggling to write this entry.
I guess I wish I had someone that I could call. Someone to ask for advice. Someone to share some roots with. Someone with shared history. Someone who has been there consistently throughout my life. Someone to be proud of me.
In short, I want the ideal example of what parents should be toward their adult child. So it might be a better thing that I can imagine what it might be like, but don’t actually HAVE parents, because they would just disappoint me.
Hmm. That might have sounded more harsh than I intended it to be. Or maybe I DID mean it to come out harshly.
See, I have very few examples in my life of parents living up to this exemplified standard. Calvin’s on the outs with his mom, his biological dad has never been a part of his life, and his step-dad is in prison. Several bloggers I read (one in particular, and you know who you are Miss!) kind of make me grateful that I DON’T have parents, with all the crap they’ve been going through with their own. And quite a few people have expressed a weird sort of envy at my orphaned (for all intents and purposes) state. “You’re lucky you don’t have parents to piss you off,” they say. Or, “At least you don’t have to deal with the drama.”
Seriously. People have said stuff like this to me, often enough to leave me blinking. I know they don’t mean they think it’s a good thing that my mother is dead and that my father might as well be. It just seems to me that given the choice, some of these folks would actually choose not to have parents at all, rather than the ones they have.
I don’t know. It’s just weird to me. Given my relative lack of family (no pun intended), I tend to be hyper-aware of relationships, and perhaps overcompensate in the desire to maintain them. Yet, poison is poison, and if anyone, parent or otherwise, is a detriment to your life and your mental health, I believe you should remove that influence from your life.
Maybe I would have liked to have had the ability to make that choice for myself, whether or not to have my parents in my life. Yes, I think that’s the point exactly. Yeesh, only took me eleven-hundred words to figure out THAT little nugget. Although this isn’t the first time that writing an entry has helped me figure out how I really feel, and I have no doubt that it won’t be the last.
I have other thoughts, about the other side of the coin, and what I believe my responsibility is as a parent to grown children. Which will come in a subsequent entry. Certainly it’s a topic that I know will prove to be easier to write about, since I have real-time, real-life experience in the matter.
So, gang! What are your thoughts on the subject?