Here is the next question from my sisters “microhistory” assignment about someone in her life – me! (read the first one here):
What was most important to your parents?
Me: I really don’t know. My dad wasn’t around much. And mom never said much about him. I know he liked old cars. Mom dabbled in a few hobbies here and there; crafty things, canning, and a veggie garden. She tried to go back to school a couple times but the time commitment was hard for her with a full-time job and a kid. I know that I was important to her. She always defended me when someone treated me bad. And she always cried when I broke up with the nice boys. Mom loves animals. We had a slew of cats and dogs that came to us by way of dying hospice patients or rescue attempts from bad environments.
I asked my sister the same question, here is her response: I was never familiar with my dad or his side of the family. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I realized for quite awhile the most important thing to my dad was impressing his new girlfriend or wife about what an amazing (and entirely delusionally non-existent) relationship he had with me. With Mom, I believe what was always most important to her was her daughters and their well-being. In middle school when girls started bullying me, she asked me if she needed to call their parents and I remember begging her not to because I didn’t want my name to get back to them. I know what Mom wants is for me to get through school and to succeed and to have more than what she did. Isn’t that what all parents want?
It seems like we don’t know much about our parents’ lives outside of being a parent. I think that once you become a parent, you agree to give up part of yourself in pursuit of raising the child in the best way possible. It sounds like an inherent part of the contract. It was for our mom anyway. But rather than make this a sad little diatribe on how we grew up with a single mom, I’d like to highlight the fact that she really tried hard to fill both roles. We also had a fantastic set of grandparents that filled in the “it takes a village” role. Both of us girls got through high school and into college without creating too many roadblocks for our future successes. So I guess at the end of the day, my sis is right, isn’t that what parents want? For things to be better than they were for them?
Perhaps we should ask them?