2/02/2011

Generation Gap - Bridge It

When did my parents get so smart? Why wasn’t I told a long time ago? I would have paid more attention and listened on the first time around had I only known!

I thought they were wrong most of the time. Now, all these years later, I find out they were right so many of the times. Back then, I hated their input and influence in my life, so much so that even when I knew they were right about something, I argued that they were wrong. If they told me they did not care about what the people down the street were doing, I stood up long and hard for those people down the street as a defense, even if I hated their kids just on principle!

In those days, my parents were uncool, not hip and it seemed their childhood was a lifetime away from mine. I recall saying things like “Things were way different when you both were kids in the dark ages.” They agreed, letting me know just how spoiled they thought I was because I only had to walk two miles to school, compared to their five mile walk in snow twice as deep as the snow I was drudging through. Our parents tied to tell us what makes the world go round to no avail. My friends and I thought we knew what made the world a better place, money, good looks, fun times and no parents. Oh yeah, no rules was an added bonus as well with no curfew!

Ah, how simple was life then, looking at life through rose colored sun glasses at the beach. But as the years go by, I got older and realized, so many of their darn rules were for valid reasons and were rightfully enforced. Staying out late at night as a young person, is not safe. I grew up to became the enforcer to my own children and was met with the ‘wicked look’ when they got home that I have given my own parents at about the same age my kids started giving it to me. Wow, did I ever look that mean, my daughter seemed to have it done to a science, heck, she downright scared me!

The facts of what makes true happiness were words of wisdom imparted on me by my parents at a tender age that I simply did not heed. It was lost in the wind, too immature to digest. Slowly but surely, those words circled back to me as I aged. How ironic that they turned out to me so similar to what my parents had said many moons ago but I was not ready to accept the answer would be so simple. Who would have thought it was tied to simply looking within myself and not associated with a dollar sign, a look or another person. No, happiness is not found inside or connected with commercialization and it is not materialistic. All those items do is cover up the emptiness many of us tend to feel inside to avoid feeling.

When I became a mother and a wife, the advice came without boundaries and without limits from my parents, now new grandparents. It was aimed at how to have a better marriage, effective communication standards, efficient parenting roles, strategic financial planning, etc….. Each tidbit of advice was met with a resigned “oh here we go again, unasked for advice” followed by a “and what do they know.” I saw their mood swings change as things changed in my life. I wondered what was so wrong with them that they could not just back totally out of my life and leave me the heck alone. I sometimes thought maybe we all just needed distance from each other but then I saw the goodness and love and that kept me grounded in the relationship. I knew my children needed them and they were heaven sent to my kids also. I also needed and wanted our bond to last a lifetime.

I am not sure what happened, when it happened or why. Perhaps it was recovering from cancer, or maybe it was recovering from the trauma of hitting fifty or being a certified grandmother of several grandchildren but things changed, seemingly overnight. I went through a metamorphosis. I started recalling, little by little, pieces of advice my parents had given me over the years. The more I recalled, it came back with velocity and momentum. My shock grew as I realized how smart and practical my parents really were. I started to wonder also why did I not have that common sense or did I have it and were my own kids wrong as they seemed to question me every step of the way. And I kept coming back to the same point, the same question, how did I miss the fact that my parents were so darn smart on so many practical things in life?

Then I realized the crux of the issue. Kids, no matter the age, do not want to hear what parents have to say. It is only with age, perhaps facing mortality, that we realize our days are numbered and we are just a short time away from our parents demise. We all must one day be willing to put aside the years and the fact that they are our parents and really reflect and listen with open ears and heart. Their words come from a place of love, even if the words are not always perfect or exactly right. To listen like this is not to judge, those who gave us life deserve that from us. Look in your heart and pray, that before your parents demise, you find that place to bridge the gap.
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