Written by Jeremy Pyles for my parents 35th Anniversary Party in July, 2002.
I remember the day when we brought our parents home from the hospital. They looked so young and beautiful and innocent. Little did we know what sort of trouble they would create, all the predicaments they would get us into. But at the time, all we could see was that God had blessed us with these two bundles of joy we call ‘our parents’.
We remember struggling to come up with appropriate names for them, but finally just ended up with simple names like ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’….the names just seemed to fit. Sure it was difficult at first, the crying, cleaning up after them, dealing with tantrums, but we were happy. We were poor, and we didn’t know any better, and we were happy. We saved our money and sent them to the best schools…tried to help them prepare to face all of life’s challenges.
We always took them to church and hoped that they would find God of their own accord — Sunday School, Vacation Bible School…even Parents groups, so that they could socialize with other oppressed parents about the difficulty of being raised by two children who were just trying to do their best—After all, as kids, our parents didn’t come with instruction manuals, right? We just had to try the best we knew — and wing it. We tried to follow the teachings of the Good Book itself…How does it go? something like: Spare the rod, spoil the parents? (that’s it, right?!) Yeah, spare the rod, spoil the parents.
Yes, they often brought the family car back with an empty gas tank. it wasn’t easy teaching them that money doesn’t grow on trees and that we didn’t own shares in the electric company. There were a few minor altercations, but we all survived with relatively little permanent damage. (right?…)
We didn’t always approve of their friends…….Some of you are here today.(You know who you are…) We’re watching you…
We looked forward to family holidays when we could all get together, and inevitably, one them would always show up on the doorstep with laundry. Hmpt! Parents! They’re so predictable. There were times when we would worry about what we get them for Christmas — trying to find the perfect toy, hoping that they wouldn’t be disappointed. We know that we gave them what they NEEDED to survive, but we also tried to give them everything they WANTED for Christmas…and not spoil them too much. No one likes a spoiled parent!
And then of course there was last new year’s eve, waiting home well after 2 in the morning for them to come home from some “party” supposedly chaperoned by other “adults”. We suspected that there might be alcohol involved. Maybe even dominoes, or heaven forbid cards or dancing or kissing when the clock strikes midnight. There I was, sitting by the phone, waiting for it to ring — worrying and just hoping and praying that it wouldn’t be the sheriff’s office (again)! Kids face tough questions every day: Do we bail our parents out of their own messes? Or do we instill TOUGH LOVE and let them learn from their mistakes? It isn’t easy being a kid. And then that inevitable day came when my brother and i knew that our parents were finally ready to spread their wings and fly — and live without us! Sure, we were nervous at first. And there was the issue of our pride: How would they truly make it in the world without our daily support? Will they survive? Are we no longer needed?
Of course, when they first left the nest, it was a bit of an adjustment for us, but eventually we grew to enjoy our newfound independence. And the pride from knowing that our parents were able to survive on their own was well worth all the blood, sweat, and tears that we as children had put in all those years to raise them up in the best way that we knew how. But as kids who love their parents, what can you do other than love them and raise them the best you know how? All you can do is teach them, and set them free into the world, let them make their mistakes and comfort them when they get hurt and come back to you for sympathy. Oh! and the times they came running back! Of course, as children, you have to have that unconditional open-door policy and let your parents know that they are always welcome to come home, (even if hopefully only for a short while).
Yes, it wasn’t always easy trying to raise two parents. Some kids have problems raising a single parent, imagine the difficulty in raising two! But did we have a choice?! They may have accidentally ended up in our lives, we certainly didn’t choose them, but every day we chose to stick by them, even if all the love we gave them was sometimes taken for granted.
…As children, it isn’t uncommon to be misunderstood by your parents. you give and give and give, and have to accept the fact that you’re not going to get a lot back —- at least at first. You can only hope that your investment pays off sometime in the future when your parents come back to you (someday) and tell you that you’re not really that awful after all, & that they love you and respect you, and *now* appreciate all the tough love you gave them while they were growing up.
We were worried about them making reckless life-altering decisions, like the time they came and told us that they wanted to move to Minnesota! “Were they crazy!?” we asked ourselves. “Who would want to do something like that!?” That’s crazy talk. And there would be those mornings where we send them off to work, to the corporations. Inevitably, they would occasionally come home with bruised egos, having faced altercations with their workmates. Nobody told us how difficult it would be to help them through life’s hard lessons….Sometimes as children, we would want to storm down to their office and tell their manager off or fight the bully in the company cafeteria for them.
It is hard as children to sit by and watch your parents struggle in the workplace, and know that the only thing you can do is let them cry on your shoulder and give them love and support. You know that you can’t fight their battles for them, but you still want to try. Being a kid isn’t a job. It is a lifelong calling!
Yes, my brother and I had some sleepless nights, wondering if we had done everything completely wrong in raising our parents, if we had damaged them permanently, if their college funds would eventually go toward therapy sessions. It took a while for them to grow up, mature into responsible parents, but all of our hard work was worth the wait, and we’ve raised what we consider to be wonderful people who are well-adjusted and can contribute to society. We love them, and everyone who knows them loves them.
SOME people would say that raising parents is a thankless job, but in reality, seeing them here today — and how they turned out, this is the best reward we could have asked for. Sure my brother and I didn’t do everything right, but if you look at the end result, i think you’ll agree, that our parents are pretty amazing people.