Wednesday, January 23, 2013

30 Things - Relationship With Parents

#3 Describe Your Relationship With Your Parents

For an explanation of 30 Things and past posts, click here:

Childhood (up to 12 years old)

I have a horrible memory for my life when I was a kid. I once told my brother that I didn’t remember him at all from my childhood. When he looked upset by that, I simply reassured him that it was okay, because I barely remembered me from my childhood. So, I don’t really know exactly how my relationship with my parents was.

I do know that, because my mom stayed home, I was very close to her. Apparently, when I was a baby, I was pretty easy to take care of. All Mom had to do was stand in the kitchen and I would play at her feet with the pots and pans. One of my favorite baby pictures is me with a red strainer on my head. I followed Mom wherever she went and happily played near her. I remember her making me tuna fish sandwiches served with Cheetos every day for lunch during kindergarten. I remember coming home from first and second grade and joining my mom on her bed at the end of her nap and talking her ear off about my day while we cuddled. I’m pretty sure I told my mom everything, I loved spending time with her, and I felt better about myself when I was with her.

My dad worked hard and was in the Stake Presidency all through this time. So unfortunately, he wasn’t around much. But when was, I loved it. On days that he would get home late after we were already in bed, he would come upstairs and cuddle with me for a bit, then with Sarah (we shared a room) and stay with us until we fell asleep. As the baby in the family, I had a tendency to get picked on. Dad paid attention and when he could see me getting hurt by it, he’d make sure the big kids stopped. If I was just frustrated or mad, he’d let them continue and maybe join in himself, but as soon as my emotions crossed the line to pain and hurt, he’d step in. The thing I remember most often was the sound of Dad locking the front door every night when we went to bed. I loved knowing that not only was he providing for us at work, but he was protecting us by keeping the scary things of the dark that wanted to hurt us from coming in (or at least that’s how I saw it). I always felt safe as soon as I heard that thud and knew he was watching out for us.

Teenage years (12 – 18)

The first year or so of my teenage years was a little rough. But after being grounded for 2 months straight once, I decided on my own that I wanted to change, so my relationship with my parents improved drastically after that.

During high school, I considered my mom my best friend. There was nothing I liked more than sitting around and talking with her about anything and everything on my mind. I valued Mom’s opinion more than anyone else’s (well, of course as a teenager there were a few times I cared more about other people’s opinions, but it was definitely not the majority of the time).  Mom often encouraged me to serve a mission when I grew up, emphasizing the fact that because it was the best preparation she could have possibly had for life, she wanted me to experience that as well. And she had faith in me that I could be a really successful, powerful missionary. It was good to be believed in, with the expectation of triumph, rather than failure.

Dad was no longer in the Stake Presidency when I was in high school, and started having Fridays off, so I saw him more. He did what he could to support me in my activities and go watch me in the marching band as often as he could. I wouldn’t say we were super close at the time, a fact that I really regret and wish had been different. I think this was partly because he didn’t know how to relate to me and mostly because I didn’t really give him the chance. I respected him and looked up to him, we just didn’t have much to talk about. And that’s okay.

Undergraduate and Mission years (18-23)

Growing up and moving away definitely changed my relationship with my parents, many times over. Of course there is the awkward stage of trying to figure out how to have an adult relationship with your parents. Then there is the part where you realize that your parents aren’t perfect, which is hard in some ways but really good as well because you realize that they are human too. It’s a confusing time, but I think my parents handled it great.

With my mom, the first few years of college I did what I could to stay as close to Mom as we had been before. I would call at least a few times and week, sometimes every day just to talk or get her opinion on things. Mom tried not to call me very much because she wanted me to see that she saw me as an adult and didn’t want to force herself upon me, which was good, but I also always wanted her to call me more and feel the desire she had to talk to me. When I went on my mission, Mom sent me great care packages and let me know how proud of me she was (actually she would say “greatly pleased” to avoid the “sin” of pride, which I thought was cute). She wanted to know everything I was experiencing and was so happy to see me experience what she loved so much.

Dad and I didn’t keep in touch as much when I first went to college. Any time I called and he answered he would ask a few questions and then, assuming that I just wanted to talk to Mom, hand the phone over to her. Any time I was in a financial bind or needed help flying home, he was willing to help as much as he could. I was to be as financially independent as possible, and only go to him when I really needed it, which I think I did well at not abusing, and it was good to know that I could always rely on him. On my mission, Dad really stepped it up and wrote me a letter every week. It was mostly just his weekly journal that he would print and send to me, with a few adjustments here and there. It meant more to me than he could possibly know. I trusted in those letters, knowing that they would come every week and it made me feel safe and loved, feelings that were semi-rare during those times. I think I got to know him through those letters in a way I never had before, and I loved seeing little bits of him through his writing. Some of my most prized possessions are a few letters he wrote by hand when he was unable to type or print. My dad doesn’t like to write and doesn’t like his handwriting, so to know that he still wrote me anyway was so special.

Graduate School (24-current)

Moving back near home, only an hour away, has changed our relationships again. I got used to not talking to Mom as often while on my mission, so I no longer call just to talk, except in rare situations. Also, I’m crazy busy, and so is she. But when we get together we talk too much and always end up being together longer than we should (which usually ends in me driving back to Houston at 1 in the morning). I value Mom’s opinion just as I did before, but I no longer feel like I need it as much. I used to need to know what she thought about anything before I could make a decision, but now I am confident that I can make my own decisions and she will support me. Which is such a good feeling. I think we are finally, after 7 years of me being “an adult” and navigating the waters of emerging adulthood, I feel confident in myself, I know that she is confident in me, and we are able to relate as adults, rather than as parent/child. Mom cracks me up and I love spending time with her (and wish we could see each other more). I know that she wants the best for me and trusts that everything will work out. Though our relationship is different now, I really believe that Mom was the exact right mother that I needed; all of her strengths and weaknesses exactly matched to what I needed to develop and learn to become who I am today.  To see more about my relationship with Mom, here is a letter I wrote for her birthday last year.

I think my relationship with Dad has been much better and closer since my mission. Though we are completely different and often don’t understand each other (nuclear physicists and marriage and family therapists are on completely different wave lengths), I know that he loves me. Even though he doesn’t always remember exactly what it is I am doing with my life (but really, do I?) and gets uncomfortable around too much emotion (which I thrive on), I know that he is interested in me and cares about my life and success. Just like he did when I was a kid, he knows when he can tease me about things, and when he better back off and he sticks to it. I think he probably knows me better than I realize because of this skill he has, which I just realized tonight while typing this. I am glad he is my dad and proud of the heritage he has given me as a dimple-chinned Lovell! (The first thing Dad checked on all of us when we were born – to see if we had the Lovell chin). And, Dad gave me the BEST Christmas present ever this year, so he’s pretty much the bombdotcom.

I love my parents a ton, quirks and all! Parentals, thanks for everything you’ve done for me, all the support you’ve given me, and all the love you’ve shown me. I couldn’t be where I am today without you!  You are the best! Love you!!!

*Sorry for the lack of pictures recently, I got a new computer and haven't transferred everything over yet. 

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