Archive | May, 2014

Here’s to your parents!

30 May

When I was 25 I made an announcement to my friends. “I’m moving to New York.” I said proudly. I remember sitting around a table, eating tater-tots on a Saturday night, drinking beer and margaritas and having zero responsibility to deal with. My friends congratulated me and we lamented how our fun times would end but got excited about the idea of them coming to visit.

25 and having a ball.

25 and having a ball.


After being in New York for a few years, I was making great money, having a fabulous time, living in my own apartment, running around with friends, sitting at VIP tables, getting into exclusive nightclubs and – you know, being a 30-something in New York.

I often think about my parents in a context, what were their lives like when they were my age?  What were they doing when they were 25, 28, 35 years old? What were their lives like? Quite different from mine, I can tell you that. At 25 my mom was raising two children in a country where she was learning the language. She was thousands of miles away from her friends and her family, her sisters and her known way of life. My dad was with her, a young groom and also thousands of miles away from his family and friends and figuring out how to be a doctor in the US. Together they navigated Oklahoma while they wrestled with the mysteries of the washing machine (“The clothes are GONE!”), tornadoes, and doing their best to make their lives work with what they knew from growing up. When my mom turned 30, she had 2 children and a 1 week old baby. Her and my father were then living  in Florida where my dad was working his ass off, opening his practice and doing what he could to make things work for him and his family. By the time she was 35 and he was 41, they were in the process of separating.  A few years later they would be divorced.


I LOVE this picture!

Quite a different experience from my life I would say.

I hear a lot, and have heard a lot, of people talking about their parents and the ways that they were raised. Some people lament the things they wish their parents had done or said. Some wish their parents had never said that one thing that still pisses them off  today. Some people do not even speak to their parents. The relationship itself is so complicated that I can’t even sit here and tell you the nuances of parent to child. I just can’t. But a majority of people feel or have felt that one of both of their parents failed them in some way, big or small. As kids we have an ideal of our parents. We expect them to be super parents. We expect their unconditional love, their wisdom to be imparted on us at a moments notice, their unwavering support, their praises of us sung to us at just the right times. And why wouldn’t they do those things – they’re our PARENTS! Right!? But oftentimes, this doesn’t happen the way we expect. Sometimes parents don’t live up to our ideals of them, whether in a big way or a small way. And when we see that they don’t live up to our ideals we begin to wonder – and resent. Why didn’t they do this for me, why didn’t they tell me this when I needed to hear it, why did they make me do that, why did they say that, didn’t they know how it made me feel? How dare they treat me that way! How could my mom/dad do that to me – I’m their CHILD!  We are appalled to see them for who they are – normal, everyday people.

When you were born your parents were  not handed a book titled “PARENTS – DO THIS, NOT THAT”. I think about my parents lives a lot and the choices that they had to make, the way they must have felt at different times in their lives when big changes were happening. And I wonder – what would I have done if I was in their shoes? What choices would I make when I was 23 about getting married and moving to another country, what would I decide when I was 29 about having a 3rd baby, what would I have felt if I was in the middle of a divorce, right now, with 3 kids? What decisions would I make? How would I feel? I mean, I don’t know anything. I’m just winging it over here myself except I don’t have children depending on me to keep it together, depending on me to be an amazing support system, earth mother, all-knowing father, always saying the right thing, never be mad, to be understanding at all times. The amount of patience one has to have must be crippling. I mean, I get annoyed when our cats wake us up every morning to feed them. I can’t even IMAGINE what it would be like being a parent. I have to laugh out loud just thinking about that comparison! And what about THEIR parents? What did our grandparents teach them about raising children? Nothing. They did the best they could too. And from what you hear, they were strict you better believe it! Our grandparents were some serious people to contend with, weren’t they. Can you imagine growing up with your grandparents? Our parents can.  Sure they are awesome and wonderful now but as emotional adults well – who knows what they had to contend with. We can only imagine.


The grandchildren at the time with our beautiful Abuela.

I think that seeing our parents as ordinary people is one of the most important steps to take on the road to being an adult. Seeing them as mere mortals instead of super-parents can be a huge relief. You can lose any expectations you have on them to be Super-Mom or Super-Dad. You can let go of any resentments you had about what they did or didn’t do because really, they were just doing the best they could with what they knew. The same way you do every day in your own life.   And you can stop thinking of yourself as that little kid, that child who was hurt or surprised or sad for any reason. Because you are not a child anymore. Your parents work is done. Finished. You are an adult now. You don’t have to expect anything from them. You can be grateful for  the wonderful things they did for you.  You can say, “I am so lucky for what I had.”  Or you can say, “This was what I had – and it shaped me as an adult.”  You can let go of anything that holds you back from feeling like the adult you are. You can hope for a wonderful new friendship between lifelong friends because its pretty likely they will be around for a while. If you have kids now, you can appreciate what it must have been like for your parents in an entirely new way. But there is no reason to not  finally step back, take a look at the big picture and say to yourself, “Thanks mom and dad, for what you did. I am who I am because of it.”


Dear God,
Please bless my parents.
Thank You, thank them for the life they gave me.
For the ways they helped me and made me strong, I give thanks.
For the ways they stumbled and held me back, please help me to forgive them and receive Your compensation.
May their spirits be blessed, their roads forward made easy.
Please release them, and release me, from my childhood now gone by.
Release us also from any bitterness I still hold.
They paved the way, in all that they did, for where I have been has led me here.
I surrender my parents to the arms of God.
Thank you, dear ones, for your service to me.
Bless your souls.
May your spirits fly free.
May we enter into the relationship God wills for us.
Thank You, Lord, for I am free now.
Glory, hallelujah.

-M. Williamson, Illuminata


Princess vs. Queen

24 May
When I began thinking about writing this post I turned to my fiancé and asked him the following question.  “Do you think women are mean to men?”  “YES!” he said without hesitation.  Ouch.  Why I asked?  “Because you guys are mean to each other”. Double ouch.  But that’s true.  And it starts young, doesn’t it ladies. I remember that day in elementary school when I realized that I could not count on some friends to ever be real friends because at any given day they would decide that I had done something wrong and would not talk to me for weeks.
Also, remember when the movie Steel Magnolias came out and tons of people fell in love with it (and Julia Roberts hair)?  My father however, did not fall in love with the movie.  He said that he didn’t like the way the women spoke about the men that he found it to be degrading to men in general.  At the time I didn’t understand what he meant.  Now I look back on it and can see what he was talking about.
When my fiancé made that statement, my father’s observation of that movie came back to me.  I had seen plenty of times in my life where women were mean to men and talked down to them.  A fine  example of this was when I was living in Orlando and took a day trip with a then friend of mine and her boyfriend to the beach.  Our destination was a sunny spot where other friends and cute boys would be hanging out and drinking beer for the day.  What could be wrong with that?  Plenty.  My friend (who we will call Janet) was a woman who was mean to her boyfriend.  It was well known that Janet really really really wanted to get married and somehow her boyfriend (who we will call Chris) was pissing her off – for not asking her I suppose or not living up to some ideal she had scripted for him.  Chris was perfectly nice if a bit young – aren’t we all at some point?  Janet took many opportunities to belittle Chris in front of me and others, yelling at him for his “Piss Poor Planning” (the gas light on the car came on), raising her finger at him and reminding him that he needed to take one step at a time (when cuddling her and asking her if she wanted a house at the beach one day) and generally being not so nice.  Riding in the car in the dark on the way home was a bit uncomfortable for me because I sincerely didn’t think Chris deserved any of this talk and HELLO!  I was in the car with them.  Now I didn’t know the ins and outs of their relationship but sometimes it doesn’t take much information to know a relationship isn’t going to work out and sure enough, this one ended.
Marianne Williamson is a teacher and lecturer on the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles and she often touches upon romantic relationships.  While she does address the way men relate to women she often speaks about the opposite – how we as women tend to relate to and treat men.  Our words she says, are to men what men’s fists are to women.  Women hurt with their words and have a tendency to say such cutting things in the name of fighting to be “right”. I see plenty of examples today through social media, where women write or post pictures and sayings about ex-husbands, men who wronged them.  I often hear men referred to as idiots or stupid.  I am all for people venting their anger and see it as a necessary process in life. But there are times when we can be WAAAAY too indulgent in our feelings and we can seriously hurt loved ones.
One of the many man name-calling items I found online.

One of the many man name-calling items I found online.

There is a time in women’s lives according to Marianne, where women are in our princess phase. Our emotions are high and we are learning how to grasp the unique privilege that is being a woman. Voicing our thoughts and ideas strongly and powerfully in a world where our ideas and thoughts are not often taken seriously, is an important undertaking.  Let me be clear here – there are definitely times when being true to yourself does mean yelling and does mean being loud and angry.  I’m all for the emotional flip out.  But if turning in a frenzy on a loved one or anyone is your most frequent or only method of communication in any of your relationships then its time to learn how to communicate more effectively.  Because let me tell you, if any woman wants to be treated like a Queen in her life, it’s time she stop acting like a Princess.
Earlier in the year I was experiencing much anxiety about our fall wedding.  I sat at my computer and began seething about dates that had gone by, deadlines that were not met, important starting points not decided.  And I began to get angry, mostly at my fiancé for whatever reason.  He was nearbyI suppose? I was ready to start a big temper tantrum about why we hadn’t done this and that and the other.  But then I stopped myself.  Because that would have been the easy way out.  What did I really want to get out of our interaction?  Did I want to make him feel bad about it?  Did I want to tell him it was his fault?  Most of all, did I want him to listen to me?  Because starting a hissy fit would have been a sure way to confuse the poor guy and accomplish nothing. I thought about how I would feel at the end of that scenario and decided that was not the route I wanted to take.  So I went to his desk, sat down next to him and asked him if he had time to talk.  When he said yes, I began to talk about how worried I was about everything that was pending and what needed to be done and how overwhelmed I felt.  We talked for a while and afterwards I felt better.  I even told him how before I sat down with him, I had considered starting a hissy fit and he laughed at that.  The outcome was better, I felt better and I felt like I had chosen the approach that really benefitted the both of us.
Be nice to your men ladies.   It’s not easy to be a man today.  Their dynamic in the world is changing and times are hard for them. While women are rising up many men are trying to figure out how they fit in the changing arena.  Give them a break.  Be nice to them!  Say nice things to them! Compliment them!  Whats the big deal?  Whats wrong with treating them in a way we want to be treated? They need our respect. Drop the Princess act and start finding the Queen inside of you that you deserve to be.
“A queen is wise.  She has earned her serenity, not having had it bestowed on her but having passed her tests.  She has suffered and grown more beautiful because of it.  She has proven that she can hold her kingdom together.  She has become it’s vision.  She cares deeply about something bigger than herself.  She rules with authentic power.”  
– Marianne Williamson