Sunday, August 21, 2011

Props. (Warning: sentimentality ahead.)

I've wanted to write this post for a while, but I didn't want anyone out there in the blogosphere to think that it was a response to any post s/he may have written. It's really not. I guess I feel like I need to say that because there's a way in which someone who's had a different life experience than mine might feel like I'm smug, or lecturing, or dismissive. I hope I'm none of those things.

What I am, and what I've been increasingly over the course of the last couple of years, is grateful for my parents, and the rest of my immediate fam.

I'm very, very lucky to have been raised in a family that genuinely enjoys all its members. My ex-husband used to say, amused, "You guys like each other pathologically." When I was growing up, I liked best to hang out with my family, and with the cousins that were attracted by my parents' gravitational pull of fun and acceptance. I didn't go through that teenage phase where my parents were stupid and I preferred my friends, nor really did my siblings. During hard and awkward adolescent years, I withdrew into the safety of that family circle. My parents' home was the house in which all the friends--mine, and my siblings'--congregated. My parents and sibs played games until the wee hours of the morning and went midnight sledding with my high school buddies and me. My parents took in at least three of my younger brother's friends when those boys' own families had invited them to leave.

I took my current job in part because I could live near my parents. When I finished my PhD, I had one child, and was planning that one more was in the future, and I wanted my kids to know their grandparents, and to feel the same sense of support and love that I had received. And when I split up with their dad, I moved into my folks' basement for 2 years. I understand that this situation would have been impossible for many people. For me it was a godsend, and a great blessing to have that grounding place to land when my world was falling down.

In this year, the year of my fortieth birthday, I've realized that for all my stress and striving and work-related anxiety, I am pretty much content, centered. Happy. An academic friend was visiting this past weekend and sent me an email afterward in which she expressed appreciation for my ability to just, you know, be happy--an ability she felt was connected to this fundamental sense of well-being and support that I've been gifted with my whole life.

And she's right. And I have felt the need to give credit where it's due for many, many months. So there it is: three cheers for all the good peeps who growed me, and whose example I aspire to meet as I raise my kids.

11 comments:

Bardiac said...

What a lovely post :) And happy belated birthday. And more, a nod to your parents for being (it sounds like) wonderful people. (You always get a sense that the parents who take in extra kids have something extraordinary going on. I'm glad you got to have that growing up.)

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

You're really lucky. I have found that it's somewhat rare to come from a family like yours, and it makes me sad. My family has always been a chaotic mess, and I have always wished it were different. I try to make sure that my family now (kids and hubby) is more calm. No one is perfect. But it would be great to hear my kids say something like what you wrote when they're adults. I want them to feel, well, at home in our family. :)

Johnsons Part Deux said...

Cheers indeed! Your family is the single most coolest family I have ever met...Including mine, but don't tell!) Sure, I may be biased, but I wasn't when I met them like 7 years ago...and I still feel the same way about them. Especially your parents. I have never met people so willing to give ANYTHING to ANYONE. Great post!

Lisa B. said...

Your parents--and indeed, all of you--are just terrific. Loved reading this. Go ahead, be sentimental. It looks good on you.

Leslie said...

Do the awesome parental units read blog? Should. You are as fortunate in them as they are in you.

And I'm GLAD the things get to get growed with them nearby.

Flavia said...

This isn't sentimental. It's just lovely.

I did go through an adolescent period of thinking that my parents were tedious hidebound folks who totally didn't get me, and I'm so grateful that I outgrew that (and that they outlived it).

Having a friendship of mutual love and admiration with my parents is one of the greatest joys of my adult life. Would that everyone could say the same.

Sulpicia said...

Lucky, and perfect for a Renaissance Girl, to have that experience of contentment that allows you to feel still and centred (like Donne's snail, or Jonson's Roe). Lovely to read, and inspiring.

ntbw said...

What a great post! I too have always been very close with my parents. Even before my husband and I had kids, we would eagerly vacation with my parents. People tease my husband all the time about how much he likes his mother-in-law. He's adopted, and his response is always that he feels he's been adopted twice. This is especially poignant to me since his parents both died long ago.

One of my greatest hopes for my kids is that we will all be as closely connected when they are adults (and hopefully connected with their partners / spouses / kids too) as I am with my family of origin.

My greatest regret is that I haven't been able to manage my career in a way that allows me to live near my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. The closest I've managed to get is my current job, which is at least an easy, and not terribly expensive, one hop flight. There just aren't places for me to work where they live. I am really happy you've managed to combine a successful career with a personal life that allows you to spend so much time with your obviously fantastic family.

Jill said...

You are really happy. It's a relief to be around. Your parents should totally get credit. Or at least your mom's pot roast.

Ink said...

Aw, this is so great! And I'm glad you're happy!

Anapessimistic said...

You should never apologize for feeling happy or being blessed with a great family! I can't imagine anyone would take offense at someone else's joy. Loving your family is probably the best gift imaginable.