Sometimes they say our parents mess us up in life, but I am pretty sure I messed mine up. Not messed up to the point of crazed living conditions or wild weekend benders or anything like that (at least not that they have disclosed to me…yet, but that might be fun to hear), but I definitely caused a lot of stress, worry and anxiety in their lives.
“Welcome to parenthood!” they always say. I guess I never truly realized the turmoil parents endure until I had a child of my own. And sometimes as I reflect on all the stress I have endured with my son, who is not even five yet, I think to myself, Wow! I REALLY messed my Mom and Dad up for more than three decades! Oopsie.
So with that thought, I shall explain how I did that and offer my sincere apology with the hope they can maybe laugh for even a moment, or at least let go a big sigh of relief I turned out pretty ok. At least so far. I still have one year to go before I turn 40, and who knows because hey, that’s still a whole year of opportunity.
Anyway, so here it goes, an open letter to my parents…
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am so sorry. I know there were many moments in my life where I made you proud. And…some, not so much.
There was never a shot I didn’t like in basketball, remember Dad? There could be 40 seconds left in the game and I would passionately, yet deftly (at least in my head) heave that basketball from beyond the 3-point line like time was expiring at the buzzer. Sometimes it would go in, often it would not, but hey, EFFORT and PERSEVERANCE! Thanks to you Dad, even though I was not always crazy about you being my coach because I felt picked on (kidding, sort of), I loved sports – basketball, volleyball and tennis. And that love has extended throughout my whole life with an avid passion for fitness.
Thanks to you Mom, I was a devoted student-athlete. Remember how I was a 4th grade spelling bee champion with a really, really short “bob” haircut and super awkward smile while holding that big, beautiful, golden trophy? My winning word that day was “surgeon.” Boom. One of the careers you always wanted me to be (besides being like Judge Judy), so even though that did not happen, at least we have that irony going for us.
In high school I made you both proud with my grades. My strong work ethic you instilled in me. My Principal’s Most Valuable Senior Award and my participation in a million activities, because like you Dad, I could (and still cannot) sit still. Thanks for saving all of my awards in your attic all these years, Dad. And, by the way, thanks Mom, for driving me to and from all of those sports and activities up until I got my license. Dad, I’m SO sorry about the time my senior year when I parked REALLY bad and kind of (ok, not kind of) hit the soccer goalie’s SUV as he watched from the parked school bus that was about to depart for the team’s “away” game. (Apparently they had lost because the goalie was emotionally damaged from watching me hit his car. Insert shrugging emoji here.) Instead, up, WAY UP, went your blood pressure and the good ol’ car insurance. It was a teachable moment indeed. Although, I must say, my parking is still not always the best these days and somehow always looks crooked which is embarrassing. But hey, at least I’m not hitting any cars these days. And, that same soccer player and I eventually became Facebook friends years ago, so I guess he forgave me.
Inevitably, despite some of my setbacks and social awkwardness, you both believed I was destined to do great things. Then college happened. It was my first time away from home, and I still worked hard. But I also played hard and went a little crazy. I kind of saw things I can’t unsee (damn dorms), I did things I can’t undo (but the silver lining is I never tried a drop of alcohol until college!) and I experienced a mix of things I am grateful for (friendships, Spring Break trips, journalism classes), and others not so much. But, in the end, I didn’t die and still graduated from the Honors College (somehow survived Honors Biology) so hey, big positives there!
I will never forget the sheer horror, immediately followed by vehemently pissed off looks, when you discovered I had been skydiving while away at school. I thought you would be thrilled I did something adventurous like that, but oh boy, was I so, so wrong. Over Thanksgiving break, I proudly and delicately popped the VHS tape (gosh that makes me feel old, and it must make you feel really old) without telling you what I was about to show, and reassuring you that you would absolutely love it, I was soooo excited! The video started and you saw me enter the plane in my big plastic goggles and beautifully ugly blue jumper, ride up high, hang off the wing and then let go into the great big sky (finally I let go; as you saw, the “jumpmaster” was vigorously giving me the thumbs up sign over, and over…and over). SURPRISE! Your mouths wide open, your eyes kind of buggy, your faces fluctuating into an odd mix of pale white like you were going to throw up and crimson red like you wanted to strangle me with the very straps of the parachute that saved me that day…VOILA! Two pissed off parents questioning what in THE heck I was doing at college each day and weekend. At the time I thought it was strange you were not more supportive, but now, I definitely realize you were just concerned I would break my neck; which, sadly, I found out a girl did after my third time skydiving at that particular place. So, you were right. Parents, although sometimes slow and dangerous behind the wheel, really do know best. Anyway, you are both amazing, and I am so sorry I put you through that stress. Mom, do you still want me to make you a DVD copy? Didn’t think so.
Anyway, another teachable moment: All those times you lectured me with “Just wait until you have kids,” you were SO right. I have a tremendously picky little 4-year-old eater in my house, and he has been that way since he was born. It hit me like a train one day; this is my payback for being such an incredibly selective eater as a kid, and well, even as an adult, at family gatherings, holidays, weddings, bat mitzvahs (if we went to those), etc. Oh dear goodness, I apologize profusely for my picky eating. Mom, you were a saint. You would always make two separate meals; one for you, dad and the rest of the family, and then one for me. Dad would get upset you were doing extra work and not having me eat what everyone else was eating. Yet, you knew I would gag if I didn’t like the texture of the food. You knew I was the “baby” of the family and was going to soak up every luxury of that title because I was your favorite (sssshhh…it’s ok. We are old enough to tell the others now. Hee hee). The worst was that I would reject certain foods just based on appearance. Chili, lasagna, beef stew, spaghetti, salmon, fish sticks, tuna wiggle…NOPE! They were not going into my mouth. Now, just for a second here, but in my defense, TUNA WIGGLE?! Ewww, just ewww, I can’t even handle the name let alone the wiggle or jiggle or whatever of stinky tuna! To this day I’ve never tried tuna wiggle…or chili. Or lasagna. But, before I go on a tirade about icky foods, I will get back to the point and apologize again for being so darn picky. Now you can revel in your payback and laugh maniacally that my 4-year-old does the SAME thing to me by refusing most things I prepare for meals, or by him asking me to make him specific dishes (but then driving me crazy by not actually eating them). It all comes full circle in life. Karma, baby! I know you are laughing even at this very moment, and will probably again as you lay your heads on your comfortable memory foam pillows tonight, laughing even more maniacally that we still co-sleep with our son AND dog.
Mom, I apologize, because my driving, to this day, drives (no pun intended) you nuts. You white knuckle it AND step on your imaginary brake from the passenger seat or even the back seat. My bad! You just make me so darn nervous when you’re in my car that I can’t help but go fast and then try to slow down but then try to keep up again with all the crazy drivers but then slow down again so I don’t cause you any physical ailments. Of course I will try to do better, but be warned that all Indy drivers, not just me, are crazy, so when you visit, you will most likely be stressed out on the roads regardless. All the giggles right now.
Dad, I apologize for the unexpectedly high cost of my wedding. Eek! The owner was so proud to tell us we had the second highest open bar tab at his country club. Whoops. The dance floor was SHAKING that night! We were all feeling no pain, but remember everything, so that’s a plus! I doubt we really needed all those disposable cameras or party favors or excessive table decorations; I did not realize at the time how much everything would add up to be, and that is why every Christmas you get a little extra sumpin’ sumpin’! It may take until 2030, but hopefully I can make it up to you. Ha ha. Oh, and Mom, speaking of my wedding, I’m sorry I bought you an indoor exercise bike as a thank-you gift for the beautiful bridal shower you threw for me. It just seemed like a really good idea at the time…the gift of fitness! Yet, it wasn’t until one of my guests (my favorite high school teacher) gasped when you opened the box that I realized the gift could be taken the wrong way. I tell ya, I learn something new every day!
To both of you, I apologize for posting pictures of you on my Facebook page in the past even though you had expressed your dislike for social media. I never did it with malice, but instead with pride and excitement, to share my special moments with you with Facebook land; which, by the way, includes some of your siblings, Dad, and they like to see your big, bountiful smile sometimes, too! Yet, I understand your aversion to social media as well as your respect for privacy (and because Mom’s eyes are only open in about 60 percent of the pictures we take)…so…instead of social media, HERE’S THIS BLOG ALL ABOUT YOU! Now two of my friends and a random man in Delaware will know some of our family secrets. But at least there are no pictures of you, so you must be kind of happy with me, right? Right?! Hee hee.
And finally, Mom and Dad, although I could still go on and on because I love to talk and ramble, (just like you Dad!), I am sorry, but not sorry, I will always call when I am sick or my baby boy is sick or sharting himself…I will always need you! Thank you for ALL you have done for me and for loving me in my biggest moments, as well as being my life jacket when I have been drowning in life. I love you!
Andee, a.k.a., your favorite child