A few weeks ago, I celebrated my eighth wedding anniversary. Right on the heels of Mother’s Day, the two holidays sort of knocked me over with gratitude and hope for the future. Add to it, I was sent a few FB messages from my dad.
My dad, whom I have not engaged in any type of conversation in at least six years, offered up this pearl: “If you’re honest with yourself, you know that’s not true.” This summer marks the ninth year I have been estranged from my parents. It’s not easy, and I certainly wouldn’t say I’d do it all over again. But, the path of my life – and theirs – ended up here: estrangement.
His comment was in response to my belief that my years with my family are the best years of my life. My dad went on to say that the best years of my life were with his family. And I guess that just sums up why it’s impossible to have a relationship with my parents. (Well, that and their belief that I am 100% responsible for this whole estrangement in the first place.) I know it seems small – insignificant really. Of course my father would think the best years of the daughter’s life were spent with him around.
But, they weren’t. Because the best years of my life are still ahead. Each and every day I’m given this incredible, unfathomable gift. I get to be the parent of these two remarkable humans. I get to be the partner of this amazing man. And, I’ll be honest, I’m sad that I don’t get to be a daughter anymore. I don’t get to support my parents – or show them that the gifts they gave me are alive and well. (In all fairness, I’m not sure they could see those gifts on a clear day.)
In my parent’s universe, I have to choose which is best – being a daughter versus being a wife and mother. If I had to choose – if I really had to – I would choose the worst day of being a wife and mother over the best day of being a daughter. There are so few “ands” in their world.
My main parenting goal is to prepare these small, tiny people to leave me. Not to forget about me or disappear into a puff of adulthood, but to take all that I have given them and branch out; to go and get that and.
It’s almost ridiculous when you consider how much effort you put into the acts of parenting. I want these people that I carried inside of my body to leave me and forge their own destiny. I do, really. After the exchange with my dad, my husband consoled me a bit. He told me there’s absolutely nothing he wants more for our daughters than the dream that their best years are not with us.
My eldest daughter loves to clink glasses and exclaim, “Cheers!” After one to many viewings of Sleeping Beauty, she also adds to her toast, “To the future!” It’s delightful. It’s my reminder that my best days are still coming; that I have been promised a full life by my creator. Never dull, rarely easy, but completely filled with joy.