Our parents make us who we are, for better or for worse. In my case, I believe for better. Nothing imprints our lives the way the experiences of our childhood do. For most of us, our parents were the most prominent influence on our lives. I think most parents love their children, and do the best they can with what they have, and what they’ve learned from their parents.
From our parents we get an idea of how to behave, how we want to live our lives. As we get older and realize our parents are human, flawed, we get an idea of how we do not want to live our lives, and who we do not want to be. As we get older still, we come to realize that our parents greatest strengths frequently came from the same place as their greatest flaws. Such is the nature of humanity. The man who refuses to back down is heralded as stead-fast, determined, and persevering on the one hand, and on the other denounced as bullheaded, closed-minded, and recalcitrant.
Regardless of a parents best intentions, sometimes their flaws do more damage than ever anticipated. Sometimes they don’t even realize the things they do are harmful or hurtful until it’s too late. And sometimes the child is too young to accept the human nature of their parents, and forgive. But our parents make us who we are. Their strengths and their weaknesses, the days and nights of self sacrifice, and the times when they allowed anger or frustration to rule them, all help to form the person we become.
My mother and I did not talk to each other for almost a year at one point. She did not attend my wedding. Slowly, and very cautiously, we have managed to rebuild a relationship. It’s taken almost four years to get to where we are now. I have changed and grown, and she has as well. For the most part, we’ve done this without talking about the past.
Mom, not only do I forgive you for the past, as I hope you’ve forgiven me, but I thank you for it. If you had not been who you were, I would not be who I am. I would not be where I am. Your words and actions, both the good and the bad, have shaped me and my life.
Our parents make us who we are, for better or for worse. In my case, for the better.