I have always been close to my parents. They are models of unconditional love and have supported me through endless ballet recitals, stressful exams and applications, heart breaks, foreign adventures, job changes and multiple cross-country relocations. I turn to them for all kinds of advice, and sometimes just for a sympathetic ear. But I have never been the type to call them every day or consult them about every little thing. Even so, I have been struggling this past week because my parents are on vacation in Australia so off the grid and unavailable to me should I want to vent, boast, inquire, or just say hi.
They say you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone, and having my folks out of reach has made me appreciate that most of the time, they are only on the other end of a phone. My mom and dad each have their respective areas of expertise, so although my husband and I consider ourselves fairly well-informed people, we seek their counsel on a regular basis. I found myself in a bit of a tizzy this afternoon when my baby was unusually fussy and I could not ask my mom (a registered nurse) whether to give him some medication, call the pediatrician, or just wait and see how he feels in the morning. It’s not that I do not trust my mama instincts, it’s just that I trust my mom more.
My parents are also experts at making their kids feel like their top priorities. They live very busy lives, full of dinner parties, film screenings, concerts, travel, home improvement, social outings, and their jobs. Whenever I call there is a high chance of catching them right in the middle of something or on their way out to some fun event, but they always take a few minutes to find out what is going on with me. That means the world to me.
I have never had any secrets from my parents, and I am grateful to be able to share my highs and lows with them. I used to say it felt as if something had not really happened until I told my folks about it. Their pride is the best reward for an achievement, their empathy the best salve for a disappointment. I genuinely enjoy my parents’ company; we never run out of things to talk about. My parents are not my best friends, or my diary; they are simply the best mom and dad I could ask for.
We all have different relationships with our parents, and I know that mine is likely the exception, but I think all of us new mums and dads can agree that becoming parents has given us a fresh appreciation for our parents. My parents have taught me many lessons that I rely upon in raising my son, but one stands out as the most valuable.
When I imagined having children in the abstract, I pictured cuddling a newborn, watching my baby’s first steps, sending him or her to college, and crying at his or her wedding. But my parents are constantly reminding me that parenting is a lifelong undertaking. Our kids do not need us just for major milestones or turning points in their lives, they need us at every stage in a million little ways. I am so thankful for all the ways my parents have generously shared their love, support, and wisdom over the years. I thought that having my own child would prompt a natural separation from my folks, but it has actually brought us closer together as I seek to emulate the bond they forged with me with my son.
I miss you, Mom and Dad. Have fun in Australia and come home safe!