I was in an impromptu counseling session tonight with my roommate’s mom at Taco Bell. Don’t ask me how we got there because it’s a terribly boring story filled with dinosaurs and recreational drugs. Totally lame.
When my “Other Mother” got on the subject of my new relationship (Because all moms, everywhere in the world, have to ask about boyfriends. Apparently.) I, routinely, turned the topic to my parents. Not because I am shy about my hunky man, but because only one road leads to Heaven and all the rest lead to Hell and I don’t know where I was going with this metaphor but my parents suck and it’s affecting my relationship.
So we talk. And we talk. And we talktalktalk. When I say “we”, I really mean “I”. Which is pretty impressive when you’ve got a face full of Doritos and Doritos Locos Tacos. Fear me, puny humans, as I devour all of the bowel-destroying comfort food.
I talk about how my mom hurt me and how she was hurt by her mom and it’s not really her fault because we come from a long line of mothers abusing their daughters (seriously, it’s like 4 generations deep, at least). Then I talk about my dad and how he’s a really good man who can be kind of super insensitive with women (not just me, as his two divorces will indicate) and I know he loves me but I just want him to show it in a manner that I can understand. I talk about how I don’t want to forgive them for past mistakes but that I really don’t have a right to hold it against them because, guess what? They did the best they could.
So we sit there. And we sit. And we sitsitsit. While I mull over what I have said. “They did the best they could.” I’m not sure if I really believe it. I mean, my parents (as individuals) are really smart. Like, really smart. Thus I have a hard time believing they did the best they could with the situation they found themselves in…because I’ve been their age and I’ve experienced the same hormones and I’ve kept my vagina lips neatly inside my G-string.
Do I, as their child, have a right to hold them accountable for their sins against me? I mean, have I ever truly been in their shoes? Can I really judge them without any sense of a bias? Should I even try?
I’m not my mother. I’m not my father. I’m not a culmination of their experiences. I’m just an arrogant, hurt little kid. The problem isn’t that they aren’t deserving of my forgiveness. The problem is that I think they need it. I’ve never been a parent. And it’s not like kids come with a handbook. There’s a million wrong ways to do it, but no “right” way. Raising a kid is hell. Raising four kids within the confines of an unhealthy marriage that you felt trapped in was probably hell on steroids.
Do I think my parents did the best they could? Well, no. Not really. But, ultimately, I’ve got no damn room to judge. It’s not like I did the “best” at being a daughter to them.
The second issue is that I equate ‘forgiveness’ with ‘Lowering the shields on the Millennium Falcon’. And the Han Solo in me does not fancy getting burned twice. In reality, forgiving someone, even for an imaginary hurt, does not mean letting them hurt you again. It means accepting the fact that your parents are human (gross) and are therefore imperfect (how dare they?!) and moving the fuck on. Because your past won’t change.
In retrospect, I have to say my parents probably did a bang-up job on me. I mean, if their goal was to produce a daughter who would excel in the areas where they failed (proper use of contraception) then I’m the Golden Child. If their goal was to create a little girl who would one day succeed in all the ways they completely and totally bombed (like emotional stability and financial security before I’m 40 and a healthy romantic relationship without the use of the police) then my parents are the best parents ever. Sincerely. Maybe I don’t appreciate the process, but at least I came out better than they did. So for that, I’m thankful.
My name is Chelsey Mick, and this is how we stop comparing our relationship to our parents’.