“Did you know that these windows are original 1950’s glass?”
“Hmm… yeah I think I read about that when I got here.”
“Ok well anyways, Mom and I were thinking that when Simon and Jo get here – with their four boys – that we’ll immediately tell them that they can NOT touch the windows!”
“But then I thought I’d wait until the boys go near the windows, and I’ll run over and stand in their way. I think that’s better.”
“Well Dad, I would probably just wait to see if the boys even go near the windows. And if they do, then just tell them to be careful.”
“Oh no no no. I’d prefer to just run in front of the window every time they go near it. That’s probably our best option.”
I’ve learned to stop trying to fix this pattern. I’ve learned to accept that my dad is incredibly particular about almost everything. And who am I kidding? I’m particular too.
My Grandma came to visit us at the beach house today. She’s a sweetie, but I can’t imagine that her life was easy. And she’s incredibly particular too. When we sat down for lunch, all of us piling onto the beautifully sunny deck with our plates of sundried tomato and sweet basil pasta, Grandma sat inside alone. Apparently the deck was too sunny, and too much sun leads to skin cancer and inevitably, to melanoma. So we had lunch in separate spaces, with my brother going to sit with Grandma, and the rest of us enjoying the wonderful sunshine outside. She ate inside for dinner too – this time it was too cold on the deck.
I love my family, but there are definitely moments when I wonder how some of us make it through the day. Especially with disastrous diseases waiting to get us at every turn.
Simon and Jo were a breath of fresh air today. And their boys were everything that young boys should be: adventurous and shy, inquisitive and quick, with adorable eyes and smiles that melted me. Not only was this family highly functional in themselves, they somehow lent themselves to us for the afternoon.
We drank wine and beer in front of Grandma today, instead of hiding it in ceramic mugs like usual. Mom had a wonderful time caring for all fourteen of us, Dad restrained himself from getting lost in the details, and the rest of us thoroughly enjoyed Simon, Jo, and the boys, and their fresh perspectives on life.
At this exact moment, while I write, my dad is surrounding me in my little writing corner with candle lanterns. The warm glow given off by the candles is like the sky at sunset. My mom and I just made eye contact through the window and smiled at each other. We both know that this act of kindness, this genuine display of love, is not an everyday occurrence for my dad. Which is what makes it extra considerate, and sweet.
I had a counsellor tell me one time – “Your parents are doing the best that they know how to do for you.” I didn’t believe it. How could that be true? I felt miserable and desperate and confused. They couldn’t be doing the best that they knew how.
Now that I’m older, I’m able to realize that desperation and confusion are just part of the teenage lunchbox that you carry with you each day. I can also see the value in what the counsellor was trying to say. No, they aren’t perfect. But they aren’t claiming to be. Now that I’m older, I can accept that.
Holding on to bitterness or resentment towards the mistakes that your parents made never truly helps anyone. Forgiveness feels much better. Even though it’s hard – trust me… I was the ultimate stubborn child in this area – forgiving your parents for the mistakes they’ve made allows you to live a better life. It’s like drinking wine out of a wine glass rather than a ceramic mug. Once you get a taste for the glass, you’ll never go back to the ceramic mug.