Parental Dissonance II

“Inverted Bell Curve” By Patrick Delehanty

No relationship in my life has brought me greater joy, deeper sadness, bigger smiles, or more tears than the one I have with my parents. All of these emotions happen on very natural and universal levels to which we can all relate but are unique to the lives to which they happen. Life is a tricky thing, changes are constant, especially in the paths we take and how we perceive the world as we travel along; no relationship will evolve you as much as the one you have with your parents. My parents (Pat and Bernadette) are an interesting breed; they are an incredibly curious people but are very much stuck in their ways, their mentalities of the world and how it works. It’s been a blessing – they showed me old movies, music, books, cultures, and more. But it’s a bit more difficult when it comes to explaining my newer worldviews and how I make sense of the life around me. It’s never been a point of contention, but more disconnection and confusion, raising discussions rather than broken communication, a truly wonderful thing. We’ve learned to understand each other rather than close doors.

Growing up, my parents had ideas of who I should be and what I should do when I got there, but they were never ones to push their beliefs on me or force my feet on a particular path. They were incredibly caring and understanding when it came to the situations my brother and I encountered, and would always let us take the wheel when a life lesson needed to be learned, letting us fail as we needed to and ultimately making us stronger as we carried on. They knew as we got older, we’d push away or begin to think we knew it all, and they let us spread our wings enough without letting us get out of hand. They loved us very much, even as we “didn’t need them,” and even during these times they never let their love for us slow down.

I view the relationship of parents and children as an inverted bell curve. At the beginning, for obvious reasons, we need our parents to get us through our day to day, and as time goes on through our teens / 20s we gradually distance ourselves as we make lives of our own. As we and our parents get older, we need each other more, and we begin to come back to the relationship that ultimately helped shape and mold us into the people were are. We see glimpses of our parents in our own thoughts and actions as we get older, and it’s in those moments that you realize the true effect they have on you. Small doses of values, quirks, thoughts, and ideas begin to show themselves through life, unseen until the moments they decide to show themselves.

I’m definitely in the stage of life now where I am beginning to see the increased importance of the relationship I have with my parents. I see the little glimpses of them in how I carry myself or how I act. I find myself saying more that “Mom was right” or “Dad said this would happen”, and it has made me better value not only their feedback or advice, but that of others who care enough to hand it out. As my parents have gotten older, the lines on their faces and the gray in their hair make me better appreciate the passing of time and how lucky we are to all have each other. I understand the importance of telling those you love that you love them, those you care about that you’re around, and the subtle loveliness of a voice on the other end of a phone call. My relationship with them has made me value other relationships much more and while we did have had the natural periods of distance and eye-rolling conversations about religion, marriage, having kids and more, they have always loved me for me and I for them, and that’s the greatest love and lesson I have ever known.

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