Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Perfect Parenting

I lie heavily in bed listening to my husband’s cell phone alarm vibrate uninterrupted at what I assume to be five minute intervals. He shifts every now and then, but by and large his deep rhythmic breathing proves that he never really hears it. I have no choice. I cannot ignore it. I have to get up because there is work I need to proof before a session I need to lead later this morning.

I am tired, though. The science fair project my daughter has been “working” on for weeks was not done, and like the old school parents I had, I utter, “I don’t care if you’re up all night. You are going to do it, and you’re going to do it right. And you’re going to be at school on time.” And you know what that meant? Yep, mommy and daddy were up all night, too.

I smile to myself at the irony of me needing to get up early to finish my work and my daughter staying up late to finish hers, and I think about the parents of my ten-year-old self. They were cigarette smoking, curse word spewing, argument having perfection. The midnight “get up right now and wash these dishes I told you to wash before I left” and “stay in a child’s place” and “you’ll eat it before it eats you” and “I don’t care what her mom says or lets her do” gave me the best foundation for this life I was destined to lead, but yeah, I hated it. I rolled my eyes, too, and sighed dramatically at some directive to repeat something I failed to do correctly the first time. I slammed doors, too, followed by some taller looking version of me flying into my room with what I now know to be the purest love to let me know at a decibel and intensity level not quite appreciated until my 37th year exactly how little I “earned the right to slam anything” in her house.

Then I realize how little I have actually told my parents “thank you” for making me into the kind of woman who cares about the quality of her work, wants to put her best foot forward even when it’s cramped or swollen or smelly, and is more interested in her own children developing the character traits aligned to good moral values than giving them what they want. I think about the times they angered me or got on my nerves or said something that hurt my feelings, and I send appreciative thoughts into to the atmosphere, hoping they will land long before I call to check up on them later. Of course, they made mistakes, but overall, my parents loved me enough to piss me off, and for that, I am eternally grateful and pissing off my own brood in turn.

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