A Forlorn Love Letter to Young Parents
When I was young, I’d say all the way up into my 20s, I had this image of Parents as a pretty monolithic group. With rare exceptions, they:
- knew everything;
- had whatever I needed in their purses or pockets – always; and
- never did anything that wasn’t the absolute height of good manners.
Eventually, of course, I had to revise that image. I can even tell you precisely when: it was the moment when my mother said over Christmas break one year, very calmly and with dead-on situational appropriateness, “FUCK that noise;” and, to my shocked face, reminded me that it was her generation that had come up with that phrase. And that was when I confronted the shocking truth:
Not only that; they, like…KNOW stuff.
And the more I started asking questions of my parents and other folks my parents’ age, the more I came to understand these as fairly universal truths: parents are not nearly out of it as I reeeeeeeeally needed to think they were when I was trying to get away with something every other minute. They are complicated, street-smart, and toughened (but not hardened) by years of loving battle with tiny irrational people.
So now I think of parents as:
- devastatingly cool;
- eagle-eyed aware; and
- fallible, but always mighty.
This has made maturing into a cohort of young parents really fun. Because now the devastatingly cool, aware, mighty people I know are parents, which to my mind only sort of enhances these really fantastic aspects of them; not only that, but now they get to inculcate these qualities into a whole new generation. I haven’t joined this particular group (yet?), but I admire and deeply enjoy my peers who are parents.
Which is why I have to say, with great fondness and a little loneliness: hey…I miss you guys.
You’re kicking butt at running your families. You keep your loved ones clothed and safe and happy. You devise interesting games and turn buckets into racecars and know when it’s best to grant naked sprinkler time to your toddlers. You bake cakes and hold movie nights and coordinate sleepovers. You are the ultimate arbiters of justice in your households – a weighty role I have no idea how you manage, I just worship at the altar of your collective parent-wisdom in the apparently endless “But She Kicked Me First” case files. You work hard to tend to your partners in the maelstrom of the everyday, or deal productively with your exes as the case may be. You are charming, tired, distracted, and amazing.
And damn, I miss you guys.
You run shipshape schedules, but it’s hard to grab coffee. Your house is somehow tidy (HOW DO YOU DO THAT), but you can’t stop for a dropin because you’re expecting company. You’d love to get lunch…sometime.
I have two unfortunate reactions to this friendly, totally rational, depressingly consistent rejection.
One is – ooh, I’ll have my own, then we can hang out all the time!
For the record, right after I had this thought, I did understand that it’s one of the worst reasons for having a kid I’ve ever heard. Like, ever.
The other is – well, should I just wait until college to try calling you back?
This one makes me feel sad, and kind of bitchy and passive-aggressive. Which is totally not how I feel.
How I feel is mildly despondent. I watch you orchestrating delicious chaos with a level of grace, discipline, and vision CEOs and admirals could only ever hope to attain; and I think that, in all that greatness, there’s just not a lot left over. I’m happy for your happiness – oh, you guys, I am! I see your fat laughing babies and rambunctious toddlers and gawkily graceful tweens and I see, and totally validate, your tired pride. I am happy for you; just a little sad for me. Because I know just exactly how great you are, and I miss hanging out with that greatness.
Maybe you think because we don’t have this huge part of our lives in common that I’m less interested in what you have to say or that it’s unimportant to me, but it’s actually totally the opposite: if something is important to you, I care about what you have to say about it, all the more because our lives have changed and we are evolving into the cool, interesting adults I loved hanging around when I was little.
So, yes, I will grab coffee whenever you have that moment. Yes, of course I would love to have lunch someday. Yes, absolutely, I want to hear about how Comcast screwed you over, and the resolution to who did kick whom first, and I even want to hear the story of why you can no longer stomach the sight of kale smoothies.
Just say when.
I’ll meet you there.
— Posted on 27 July 2015 at 10:03am by jessicaletaw