Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.
~Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons
My dad used to wear a pair of moccasins around the house when I was a kid. They kept his feet warm during cold Michigan winters. To this day, he calls most of his house shoes moccasins, whether they are or not. It's memories like these that make me smile, make me want something more...
When I look back at many of the posts I've written, I realize that some of you readers might think I come from a dysfunctional family. So this will not be news to you when I say that yes, yes, I do. But don't we all have some dysfunction in the family? I can only imagine what my children will say years from now, maybe when they're writing their own blog about their lives, their journeys, their children. Actually, I'm a little bit afraid of what they'll say. Because even though I'm busy, my kids and their relationship with me is the most important thing in my life (along with my relationship with Tim). Yes, I'm saying that running (or lack thereof), writing, teaching, reading--all of those come second, third, etc., behind the kids. And of course, I want to cultivate a relationship where my children will be writing good things about me, not bad.
However, I'm not so naive to think that our relationships will never suffer through rough patches. Right now, for example, I find myself having to speak to the kids in a sharper tone than I'd like to, in order to get them to listen. Their teenage and tweenage brains aren't focused on me and what I have to say. But at the end of the day (and even throughout the day) we voice a quick I love you or share a warm hug. I try to hone in on those positive feelings, make sure they come to the surface, so to speak, so that when bedtime comes, my kids go to sleep with smiles on their faces and warm fuzzies wrapped around them.
I don't always feel those positive feelings for my family. My sisters, yes. My parents? No. And yes, I just divulged that dirty little secret, out loud, in this public forum. I can't say exactly what happened along the way to this point in my life. Was something lacking in my childhood? Did I not have enough affection or time from my parents? Is there something they did or neglected to do such that here, in 2015, I find myself more detached from my parents than I ever thought possible? Was there something I did or neglected to do?
I don't have the answer to those questions and I'm not going to spend the time trying to figure out the wouldas, couldas, or shouldas of things that happened decades ago. I'm also not going to blame my folks for those feelings of detachment. I am, after all, an adult and I know that each relationship is a two-way street. But I do have to say that I think my life could be different, here in 2015, had my parents not decided to close up shop. Because as of the last decade or so of their lives, they've found the need to keep their little world intact, at the expense of personal relationships--including those relationships with their daughters.
I hate the thought that I just wrote that sentence above. It pains me to think that what I'm saying is true, but it is. I want to be clear here, though. What I wrote is not a complaint, it is an observation. Yes, I've been hurt by them in the past (distant and not-so distant). My relationship with my parents seems, from my perspective, not to be all that important to them. We repeat the same cycle of miscommunication and pain too often for me to believe that they understand what they're doing to me and my kids. But even if they don't truly understand what they are doing, I have to wonder why the cycle keeps happening. Why do I keep getting hurt when I communicate to them that they have hurt me? If you hurt someone and that someone tells you that you hurt him or her, don't you try to avoid hurting that person again? Any sane person would, right?
But again, I must go back to their drive to stay within the comfort zone of their own world, within the confines of the walls they've built. That need to stay where they are must be a survival need for them, something based within the most vestigial part of their brain, something that wipes out all logic. For I'd like to think that if they truly understood what they are doing, they wouldn't be doing it.
Which means I must take the higher road. I only have one family, after all. Yes, I've been hurt, and yes, I'll survive. And I won't like it if my parents hurt me again. But when I think about friends of mine who would give anything to have a parent back in their lives, I am reminded to be grateful. I'm reminded to forgive but not forget. I'm reminded to try and make my life, and my kids' lives, something different, something better, something worthy of writing about.