It is hard to fully appreciate your parents until you become one yourself. Although I consider myself to be a relatively mature, well-adjusted and even wise adult in my 40s, I did not fully understand nor appreciate your contribution to my life until having my own children in the past two years.
Having a child is life-changing—certainly one of the most impactful things to have ever happened to me—and it has transformed me in innumerable ways. One way is by the revelation (and I really found it a revelation) to realize how me coming into your life must have changed and transformed your life, and the sacrifices that you made to bring me into the world and then bring me up.
In fact, I can think of three profound revelations that I have had through this experience, and I want to make sure you know how this experience has made me see you in an entirely new way.
1. I appreciate your sacrifice. Being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done. But I take this challenge on at a very mature point in my life. I am in my 40s, I have a stable career and a steady income and I have a loving wife as a strong parenting partner. You took this challenge on in your 20s, raising two boys on your own, without nearly the economic resources that I have today. You also did this without Google or babycenter.com to provide you answers to every question you had along the way. Now I know how hard this really was and I admire you for the job you have done.
2. You were right, I was wrong. I can think of so many things from my childhood that I didn’t understand, didn’t agree with, or even resented you for. As children, you wouldn’t buy us sugary cereals, wouldn’t let us drink soda, you forced us to drink non-fat milk and you wouldn’t let us watch TV when we came home from school. I hated all of these rules and was envious of my friends who could come home from school, grab a Pepsi and a bowl of fruit loops, and plop down in front of some afternoon cartoons or Gilligan’s Island. Now as a parent of two toddlers I abhor the quantities of sugar in foods and I worry about how to keep my kids brains engaged in more meaningful activities than whatever is on the boob tube. Although it didn’t seem so at the time, I can now look back upon the countless times that I challenged your authority and see the simple truth: you were right and I was wrong.
3. You always chose the right thing over the easy thing. In a young mind, lacking long term perspective and filled with yearnings for a variety of things that are not healthy in the long run, it is easy to misunderstand the motives of parental supervision. Kids can feel controlled and subverted as if they are in an evil dictatorship. Now I look back and realize that you were not taking the easy route. You were making hard decisions and taking a stand for what would develop me into the best human being. I love you for that. I thank you for that.
I am only sorry that it took me this long to fully realize the scope of your sacrifice and contribution. I am proud of the men that my brother and I have become. And I am in awe of the job you were able to do as a parent and only hope that I will be able to do the same for my own children. I fully anticipate some karmic rebellion coming my way as the circle of life spins on, but am grateful for the tools you have given me to deal with it. Thank you for being not only a great mother, but a great role model.
Happy mother’s day Mamacita!
With all my love,
Jeremy (your #1 son)