My parents and I admittedly had a turbulent past. There were several years I hated them (and I actually mean hated and not the everyday-run of the muck-teen version of hating that pretty much every teenager experiences for their parents) for not seeing the bullying I was suffering from the other kids at school, for not listening to me when I tried to tell them… and although our relationship has been somewhat rebuilt since then, with the aid of some therapy on my end, I was still all too ready to fly the coop when college rolled around.
My cousin and I go to the same college, and he once said to me, “I always feel bad talking about how much I miss my parents when you hardly ever talk about yours.” That’s always resonated with me since he said that. It made me feel bad that he felt bad.
I had to accept at an early age that not all son/daughter-parent relationships are the same. I’d always thought that my parents and I would be really close and I’d be their spitting image and everything would be perfect. But not all families function like that. Which was really hard to accept in the beginning when that was all I ever wanted.
I had to learn to be thankful for the relationship that I did have with my parents. I had (have) parents that love me, and I love(d) them. And that had to be enough. Even if it meant loving them from four hours away at college without really missing them in the traditional sense of the word.
But that’s the funny thing about love. You can’t always see it. And I didn’t fully realize this until I saw my parents for my first “college Thanksgiving.” Although I didn’t feel like I’d been “missing” them, I assuredly had been looking forward to seeing them. And when I saw them at my aunt’s house, how their faces just lit up when they saw me, and how my dad talked about it not being an option to not see each other over Thanksgiving- how he would do anything to make sure that that happened- I really saw that love unfolding in front of me and really appreciated it for what it was for the first time.
And that night, as my cousins and I watched “Father of the Bride,” I couldn’t help but see my dad in Steve Martin’s character- how much love he gave his daughter no matter what, and when that was all he had left to give. I always kind of have, but it was just made more real for me that night. Especially since that type of reality seems to creep ever closer.
But if today is any indication of the future, then things are sure to continue looking up. And I’d love for my relationship with my parents to get even better. But even if it doesn’t, the invisible love is enough.