Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Meeting the Parents

It's Thanksgiving weekend and Rob's parents are in town. They are considering moving to Kelowna and decided to come check it out, along with visit us. Like any future daughter-in-law, I've been anxious about the impending visit. In reality, it's been rather pleasant. Now that I'm here to stay, there is a certain freedom in knowing I can just be myself; Rob has already chosen me--and no one else gets to weigh-in on that decision.

Is that an odd way to think about it?

I've been analyzing why I feel so relaxed, because the only thing stressing me out is watching Rob interact with his parents. What is great is I'm not yet part of the dynamic, so I get to stand outside their relationships and observe how they function. Which is fascinating.

Of course, what child doesn't at some time feel stressed out being around their parents? The parent/child dynamic at one point always regresses back to the initial relationship of parent teaching child, which usually includes what the parent perceives as the "right or wrong" way of doing something.

What some parents don't always understand is there are many "right" ways to accomplish things. I'm sure every child has a memory of an experience where they were doing something in front of their parents, trying to show them we knew what we were doing--which is what all children at one time or another strive to do--and the parent is instead trying to teach us the "correct" way. And what child doesn't want to feel proud they have met their parent's expectations? So, when the parent is not recognizing we learned what we were taught, how does that make us feel?

Having said all that, I realize I love my parents now more than ever. I finally understand they did the best they knew when they raised me. And I can clearly see how much Rob's parents love him. It's very obvious to me, but I recognize it being expressed in different ways. Which reminds me of how every child starts off the same way with every parent.

Typically there is joy when a baby is born, and the new family member is celebrated in many ways. Think of all the love you typically see new mothers showering upon their new babies.

At one point Rob's parents were that way with him, and at one point my parents were that way with me. What parent hasn't looked for every smile, until smiling became second nature (which some argue never happened for me), wished the baby laughed spontaneously, watched for first steps, listened for all the first words, and at some point didn't ooh and ahh over our cuteness? Seriously.

So, keeping that in mind, it's not as though parents ever fall out of love with their children. That's not how it works. And if you think of that when you're interacting with your parents, it reduces frustration. Now I understand this basic dynamic between my parents and I, and I don't take everything personally. My Dad instructs me how to do something "better", and it isn't about me doing it worse. After all, I'm the one who decides if it truly is "better" (and that's what being an adult is all about).

Even if I do it my Dad's way in front of him, I am still going to do it my way later. And my way may actually be better, because I learned how to make things better from my parents. Which is exactly what I'm going to teach my child.

: )