Friday, February 15, 2013

To Kennedy and Mia: Let me tell you a little bit about your parents...

I felt compelled to write a letter to my nieces.

They won't understand the relevancy of my words until they're much older (they're four and one) but I have learned so much about my sister and brother-in-law since they became parents, I felt it important to share it with them.

Perhaps I am way off the mark, but thinking about myself as a kid, and seeing parenthood through my grownup set of eyes has been an extremely astonishing experience.

Dear Kennedy and Mia,

The thing about mom and dad is that they want what's best for you; their decisions for you don't always gain the popular vote, but they have a responsibility to you. Believe it or not, they'd probably prefer to be gain a few points in the popularity category, but responsibility and consequence for your well-being always win. Always.

You likely won't realize or appreciate this until you're older, because their unconditional love is probably lost on you (it is on all kids who have never known anything but unconditional love) But trust me when I tell you that you are the most important thing in their lives. They'd love for nothing more than to make you happy one hundred per cent of the time, but they can't sacrifice your safety or well-being just to make you happy. This is reality; if there was a way to get around that, I'm sure they'd try.

You'll get mad at them a lot in your life, and they will always love you. It's easy to take this kind of unconditional love for granted, since you've never known anything else.

The thing about mom and dad is that they'll always come second to themselves and each other, because you are always going to be first. The second you were born, you become the most important person in the world to them. While looking out for one's own best interests is a natural human function for all people, parents develop a sort of "selfless gene" when they have Children. Their children's needs outweigh theirs; their children's feelings outweigh theirs; their children's lives outweigh theirs...

You've likely heard this a million times before, and I don't expect you to fully grasp the entirety of this statement until you experience it for yourself, but your folks sacrificed a lot for you. Even their most fundamental basic human needs, like showering, eating and sleeping, have always come second to your needs.

Your parents don't expect anything in return for these sacrifies, except that you love and respect them.

The thing about mom and dad is that their concern for your well-being not only burdens you, it burdens them too. You may feel smothered by their rules, but rest assured your parents do too. When you scoff at their paranoia of the worst case scenario, they grapple with the very same thing. Your parents never used to be so cautious, but you getting hurt is their biggest, scariest, saddest fear in the world.

Every accident they hear about, every tragedy, every ill-fated situation that happens to another person, gets into their brain. You are the first thought that comes to their mind when they hear of these situations, and the utter fear of something like that happening to you becomes too much. Protecting you isn't just something they have to do out of obligation, it's something they need to do for you and for themselves.

While you may feel strangled by their concern, feel grateful that somebody loves you that much.

The thing about mom and dad is that they are flawed. Your parents are only human, from time to time they will make bad decisions and mistakes. They will have bouts of selfishness; they will sometimes be unfair; they'll get angry, be irrational, and they'll piss you off. Sometimes they will even be wrong.

Try and be understanding when this happens. It will be hard, but really, really try.

It'll be hard to go easy on them, since it seems like they're always on your case for the bad decisions and mistakes you make, but just remember that they expect great things from you because they think you're perfect, while you expect great things from them because you expect them to be perfect.

Trust me when I tell you that your parents are not perfect.

The thing about mom and dad is that you are the best thing that ever happened to them. Before you were born they didn't fully realize the meaning of life and love. To them you will always be their little girls, and they will always try to protect you. They love you unconditionally, and they want you to have a better life and future than they had.

You are two wonderful girls, full of potential and personality. You may not have everything in life you want, but you have parents who love you dearly. You are so very lucky, and so are your folks.

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