Monday, April 16, 2012

Where a Disappointing Childhood Will Take You

Alicia K. always had awesome lunches. Stuff like Lunchables. Fruit roll-ups. Capri Suns. Jessica D. had stylish, popular clothes. Maria F. came home from school every day to freshly baked after-school snacks (plus she started her day with hot, home cooked breakfast as well). Faye E.'s family had a cleaning lady so she didn't have to spend all Saturday doing chores. Vanessa S. drove a car in high school - her parents even helped buy it. Oliver W. got to do more than one extracurricular activity - more like three or four. Jessica G. got a free period and could go home from school early on certain days of the week. Heck, even the O. kids got to share a  beater car among themselves instead of begging Mom for a ride. Stacy's parents paid for her college - and bought her a brand new car for graduation with her Bachelor's degree. And plenty of kids didn't have to have a job during school to pay for gasoline, extracurricular activities, and college.

My parents were pretty mean. Seriously. Brown bag lunches with a smooshed PB&J and fifteen cents taped in the bottom for milk was my cold lunch. Thanks to my two older sisters, my life was styled in decade-old hand-me-downs. Things that weren't hand-me-downs were sewn by my mother. And twenty years ago, that wasn't cool like it is now (where were you, Pinterest?). I had to do chores to earn my allowance. And my allowance was $2 every other week.  Not the $10 a week some kids made - without doing chores. I wasn't allowed to own/drive a car in high school. That encouraged sluffing and bad behavior. I was responsible for my own college. We could only afford one extracurricular activity. So I would have to choose between going to a state journalism competition or travel to Canada for advanced choir (I chose journalism).

My parents were mean. My life was hard. Miserable, even.

My parents were the worst.

My mean parents holding 2 month old Joci in June 2009.

Why, then, do I find myself calling my mother when I have a question, a problem, or exciting news? Why do I bother to talk to my dad about what he is reading? Why do I use my precious vacation time and precious savings to drive nine hours south to spend a weekend with them? Why do I beg for them to visit me?

A blog post called Your Children Want YOU! on has been passed around Facebook and Pinterest lately. Read it. It will make your spirit soar.

How true it is. A couple of nights ago, I had a cooking question. I called up my mom to ask her. She gave me the best answer she could, but she was uncertain. She called herself a bad mom. I told her that was hogwash. I knew where to turn for answers. If I truly wanted premium expert cooking advice, I would be on the phone with Martha Stewart or that Hell's Kitchen guy. But I wanted to hear what my mom would say. Because I thought it would the best, most professional advice ever? Eh...maybe not. I knew it would be worthy, but there are people more "expert" than she is. I wanted her. I wanted my mom. Despite her shortcomings, her imperfections, and all those flaws and silly beliefs that made my childhood so intolerable, I just wanted my mom.

I wanted the woman who sang "Puff the Magic Dragon" to me at night. Who rocked me. Who stayed up so late many nights to sew me a perfect dress for the next day. Who sometimes kept me home from school just to be her baby again.

And the same goes for my father. The warmth of his rough, worn hands. The smell of his cologne. The scruffy feel of his face in the morning before shaving.

My parents might not be perfect. No one is. But they are *mine.* And that's what I love most about them. Despite all the misery they put me through, I look back on it now and think they did everything perfectly and I try to do the same. Justin and I often argue about whether or not our teens will have their own car. My answer is no. I didn't have one and I did just fine. So will our kids. Justin thinks I am mean. :) Many of the torturous things I surivived in childhood have given me character and resilience. Those things are valuable.

My parents--my very, very good parents--knew that. And now, I thank them for that.

And I sincerely hope my kids have just a disappointing childhood as I had.


Tenise said...

LOL! You were one of the lucky kids I envied. Your dad flew a plane and you got those awesome airplane nuts, you got cute kittens and my mean mom wouldn't let me keep one, and if I remember right, you mom made the awesome suckers and had a sucker stand? It could have been someone else... Anyway, it's funny how things change when we "grow up" haha. Fun memories, and hooray for disappointing childhoods. Haha

Alicia said...

Okay, so I just about died when I saw my name at the front of this post. Seriously, I hope I shared my fruit roll ups. Now I am feeling a bit bad. I never noticed your smooshed pb&j. I was always jealous of that drawer full of My Little Ponies that you had. And you always got to have costume parties for your b-day.

Faye Hayes said...

I was jealous of those barbie doll clothes your mom made for you. And how when we tried out for something together you always did better than me. Im glad that you the nack for things. Your a good friend and you get it from your mom. :)

Rachel said...

I totally get this...I'm always trying to deprive my kids in the ways I was deprived as a child just so I'm sure they'll build character. :)

Debra said...

What a wonderful post! I feel this way a lot about my childhood. You said it beautifully.

Groff Family said...

Ha ha. Aaron and I have had the car discussion so many times. He thinks I am mean too. You may have had old the hand-me-downs, but they were not in style when I wore them either. However, you got the big SS payoff, so shut up! Just one question, is Joci getting that SS money? :)
Aaron said that he is going to start hiding money from me so that he can pay for things for the kids. But then again, he was rich and spoiled and got a car and college paid for and whatever amount of sports and extracurricular activities he wanted. However, with all that money I think his family tops the worst lunches ever...his mom would send blanched hot dogs in a thermos. There would be 3 thermoses in his lunch. One with a drink, one with hot dogs and one with something else like soup. He had a tackle box with wheels for a lunch box!


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