Parents: The Other Side

xmas 09 025Am I a hypocrite? I talk about missing my sons, and how far away they are and how it breaks my heart, but in all that I never really talk about how I am with my own parents. It’s complicated. But I often think of them now, and how I don’t see them much, or keep in better touch.

My parents were an important part of my sons’ lives, but before that, when I was young, they never seemed to care where I was or what I was up to. They didn’t come to my first (group ceremony in Detroit) wedding, although my mom helped me choose a graduation dress that could double as a wedding gown, as I did both in the same month.

Before that, they didn’t know (or care) when I quit school at 17 to hitchhike around the country. My mom & I had a huge fight and I left home on her order when I was 15. My dad was living on his own at the time, but he said I could stay with him. I did. For a few weeks, and then I was off again on my adventures. I was homeless but happy.

They were supportive when I decided to go back to school and get that diploma, but things were still rocky between my mom and me. Dad tried to help and when it became clear I could not live with my mother, he provided a small home on the other side of town for me to live in until I graduated high school. Yes, I lived alone. Until my boyfriend (soon to be first husband) moved in with me.

They did help after the divorce, when I was at rock bottom. And they came to my second wedding, which was a full stop shindig, my betrothed footing all the bills. I didn’t have any special mother-daughter moments. She didn’t shop for a wedding dress with me or give me a wedding shower for husband #2. My parents came to my third wedding, too, and by then my mother was ready to believe I’d never stick to anything. That was 29 years ago this September. Still together.

When Mom did call me, or I called her, she remarked without fail that she didn’t keep up with her own mother until her parents were getting old, and that she thought it was weird when parents and children stayed in constant contact with each other.

I never agreed with that, but I wasn’t going to say so. I was fine not being in close contact with her, but I always wanted something more with my sons. I just wasn’t sure I deserved it. Or that they would be open to a mom who bugged them all the time on social media, texting, phoning, visiting.

Unlike my own mother, I would love nothing more than a daily (or even weekly) text, email, or phone call. But I hold back from initiating contact lots of times because I don’t want to bother my kids. I remember how little real estate my parents took up in my head when I was starting my family. I wonder if maybe it’s the same for all young people, or was I conditioned not to care?

Since my parents are not online (lucky for me as this particular post might hurt their feelings) I can’t email them or text. I try to remember to call, but since they moved full time to Florida, we’ve visited once. And I was sick the entire time. We haven’t been back since.

I think I should give the folks a call today. After all, they are getting older. And so am I.

*photo of (from left) my brother Bill, me, Dad, Mom, brother Bob.

“Goin’ to California…

2011vac.91JPG…with an aching in my heart.” Robert Plant sang that in a song once. Of all the California songs running through my mind, that one rings most true right now. My heart aches. And nothing is wrong. All is well. Better than. But–purely physical–my heart hurts.

I haven’t seen my beloved baby boy (who is, um, 34) in too long. Hugging that ache (almost) away is a deep joy in knowing I will see him soon. Gratitude keeps the joy afloat. I hope my son is happy. That’s part of the ache. I talked to him on the phone yesterday and we’ve been emailing and I can’t tell. I’ll know when I see him.

So that’s the ache. The ordinary fact of a child growing up and away, building a life that has very little to do with me. Which is how it goes. But he’s so far away I can’t take his emotional temperature. So that’s a part of it.

The rest of it, the much bigger and better part is that I have a full and happy life of my own with my too-hardworking husband of 29 years, my adored Al. He needs a vacation. We both need this trip, for different reasons. But one reason we share is we need time together. Uninterrupted bliss just being us. Together. With the ocean and the mountains on either side and our son a short walk away.

Also, you might have guessed, I’m going on blog vacation for a week. Be back soon. Meanwhile, we’re making a playlist. What’s your favorite California song?