Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Parenting. I know, this post sounds ridiculous coming from me. Hear me out.

My mother is a graphic designer, my grandmother is a professional artist. My father is a chemist. You can imagine the difference in parenting styles. I was raised mostly by my mother and grandmother. I'm kind of a hippie. I do not like "the man" and what that whole concept stands for. I don't like large corporations. 

When I graduated high school, I immediately enrolled in college. That is what you do. You go to college. You don't spend a year trying to find yourself (although I really think everyone should.) You don't get a job and work until you figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Nope. You go to college. You start a career. You get married, you start a family. This is the "American Dream" to most Americans. 

Unfortunately I didn't listen when everyone told me that. Sure, I went to college. And skipped classes and racked up a whole lot of unnecessary debt. My mother told me to do what makes me happy. My grandmother was secretly satisfied that I didn't fit into the mold that everyone else did. My dad, not so much. My dad wanted me to go to college. He wanted me to be happy, sure, but this is a man who works out EVERY SINGLE DAY. He is puking his guts out? He sure as fuck still did his sit ups and push ups and stretches. Maybe he skipped the elliptical. He eats at the same two restaurants. He gets up at the same time everyday and goes to bed at the same time and is just a structured, disciplined person. 

I am not. So, when I finally said, enough, I am not going to go back to college AGAIN and do something I think maybe I might like. I am done, I am going to work this job until I figure it all out. And I did. And he was thrilled when I finally graduated from college. The speech he made at my graduation had me in tears. He was so proud of me and I think he learned a lesson from that...I just didn't fit in the same mold as the rest of the family, who all had their college degrees and are working steadily at their white picket fence and 2.5 kids. And, yes, often I am jealous of that. But it just isn't me.

One thing my parents never said to me was that they were disappointed in me. That they didn't love me. They were never anything other than supportive with my choices, even though I think a few times my dad wanted to shake me until I snapped out of it.

Then one day I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I pursued it and I am happy. Did I choose the lowest paying profession? Probably. Is it back breaking, exhausting work? It sure is. And I love it. And my parents are proud of me for doing what I love. 

Someone said to me, on Fathers Day, that they were grateful they were working. They were happy they didn't have to see their father. That his father hated him because he was a loser with no ambition. That he should have just gone to college like everyone else. Made something of his life. I just stood jaw dropped because, what? He does what I do, he's a cook. A chef. Maybe an untrained one, but a good one. He is one of the kindest people I know. I am proud of him. And I told him so. He just laughed. He didn't believe me. Suddenly his personality clicked and I understood all of those times I didn't understand his responses to things I said. And I felt sorry for him. 

I'm not a parent. I get that. Having a dog and a cat is not the same, no matter how many times someone posts a picture of a pitbull on Facebook with the caption "my dogs are my kids." They're not. It's not the same. So, maybe I am saying something untrue here, but I don't understand a parent of a kid who is good and kind and working full time doing something he loves, not being supportive of that. Actually being mean to him, calling him names. I don't understand.

Is it my upbringing? Is it because I had that support? I don't know. I know that when I walk into a coffee shop and see a 45 year old barista, I don't look down on them. I don't know their story. For all I know they are working three jobs to make ends meet. Does that  make a CEO better than them? When did we all become such snobs? When did success start being measured by wealth rather than quality of life? And when did parents stop loving their kids for being good people because they weren't making enough money? 

1 comment:

J o s e y said...

Yep, you got it down right. You'll be a great parent someday. :)