The Luck and Blessings of Family

I hope you all celebrated a lovely father’s day this past weekend. The boyfriend and I spent this weekend with my parents in Iowa. Since we didn’t have to go anywhere else for the weekend, it ended up being rather relaxing. I saw some family members I hadn’t seen in a while and played some Killer Croquet in the beautiful weather.

Leaving Iowa brings back a mix of feelings that are still rather new to me. When I originally left the place I called home for college, I felt like I was finally free. Stories shared about my family over drinks with friends were often about the frustrations related to being treated like a child when you felt like an adult. While I love my parents, there were times where driving back to college felt like a relief. Of course, that relief was related to far more than family, if it was related to family at all.

There are a lot of hard memories around the area I grew up. When I left for college, those memories were fresh and running away was an easy. Somewhere along the way there was a change in the relationship between myself and my parents. Our conversations these days feel more like a discussion between equals. I think it’s clear there has been a change on all fronts. My parents have proudly realized how successful I can be on my own. I don’t know how it happened, but I think there is also a comfortable understanding that I listen to and accept any advice they have to give, even if I choose a different path. I live in a different world, after all. Sometimes their advice is relevant and, with a few modifications, can be just the solution I need.

On the flip side, I’ve realized how lucky I am to have my family. We don’t always realize what makes our family unique until we grow up to a point where we can reflect on our childhood. That girl, who thought her bullies were the worst possible hell on earth didn’t know how lucky she was. That teenager writing poetry during high school didn’t know how lucky she was. Even that new college student, standing in her first dorm room during her freshman year didn’t know. Not until my senior year of college did I really realize what I gift I had.

While my parents may not be perfect, I don’t have anything I could call a ‘horror story.’ There are no memories of bad fights between my parents and they are still happily married. There’s was a stability I had growing up that was particularly special. I don’t know if I can call it rare, but it is certainly a gift.

This photo, “Iowa Pasture” is copyright (c) 2014 Carl Wycoff and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

What I appreciate more than anything else, though, is that they give me the room I need to be myself. We don’t always agree on everything, but we get along. We’re a family and we work well together. I’m lucky to have that kind of support system.

As I left Iowa yesterday, I did not feel relief. There was something else sitting in my stomach that was a bit more uncomfortable. It was a little bit like grief and a little bit like guilt. I miss my parents. They’re good people and, like most good people in my life, there is no way I will ever be able to spend enough time with them.

We all have those people we know we should try to see more often. My friends and family are so spread out that, if I were to try to see them all often, I’d be traveling every weekend. Even then, I doubt I’d consider the time spent with friends and family to be enough. Maybe that’s what makes the precious  aspects of life so important. We can never have enough. Friends and family make the top of the list, but any hobby is easily on there as well. Can a bibliophile ever read enough books? Can a gamer ever play enough video games?

So, as I left Iowa, I felt like there was still more I had to do there. Maybe it was something left on said or a person I still have to visit. No matter what, there will always be a piece of Iowa in me that feels complete when in that states borders. My home may be in Chicagoland these days, but no place can get me like Iowa does.

Do you live near where you grew up, or have you moved away? What’s it feel like to go back and visit those childhood memories? How are your interactions with parents and family different now than they were growing up? 


26 thoughts on “The Luck and Blessings of Family”

  1. I’ve always been lucky where family is concerned, my parents always gave my two brothers and I room to explore, discover, and to be ourselves growing up. Freedom through responsibility is how they chose to raise us and it did us a lot of good. Sure, we’ve done our fair share of mistakes but we’ve always learned a lot from being allowed to do so. 🙂 Today, well, they nag like parents often do haha. But as they did then, they give us a lot of room to chose our own paths.

    1. I think that’s a good way to be. I worry for the children of helicopter parents. Kids need to be on a bit of a loose leash sometimes. They need room to explore.

  2. TK, as usual, beautifully written. (And the photo is gorgeous, BTW). I moved away from my NY home in 1982 and never looked back. Now both my parents are deceased, my only sibling lives in a far-off state, the cousins I so often had contact with while we were children have been flung to the four corners of the Earth. Not much for me to hold on to family-wise. Glad you had a great visit and time for reflection on the way back.

    1. I see my family doing that. I suppose that may just be the natural flow of things. I’m still in contact with aunts and uncles, but a lot of my cousins have already disappeared.

  3. Yes, as I was reading your post I kept getting this image of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, clicking her shoes…. The cliche’ ‘home is where the heart is’ and we all have somewhere we call home. Some place where time does not move and laws are suspended if only in our hearts. Like in the movie Shawshank Redemeption, “There are places that they can’t get too”. Mine is a small town called Brownington MO, which boasts about a 100 people twice that in dogs and a thousand chiggers per dog. That is where my father still lives and where my grandfather and great-grandfather lived when I was a small tadpole. Though there are very few residents there now that I know. Lots of memories like fireflies in the evening dusk, they flitter around in their on and off light switches. Listening to the buzz of cicadas. TK thanks for the visit.

    1. My town is pretty small too, although my parents moved to the town my high school was in, so I don’t get to visit the super small town anymore. I remember when I first took my boyfriend there. He said he didn’t know you could call something so small a town, lol.

  4. As you know, I moved away to Nashville. But my mom and stepdad are nearby, as they moved to Knoxville a couple of years ago. When I go back to south Florida, I don’t really feel like I get to visit those childhood memories since neither of my parents live in the house in which I grew up…and my parents divorced after my freshman year of college. But I do spend a lot of time with my best friend, which is a way of visiting childhood memories since we have been friends since 2nd grade. My parents are still protective, but at the same time they are realizing that I am about to be a true adult and let me make my own decisions…not that they ever forced decisions on me…but I feel like they are learning to remember that I have always been a mature, responsible person and that will translate into adulthood.

    1. My parents moved to the next town over when I went to college. The town I grew up in is just a drive by now. Still, it’s nice.

  5. TK, this is such a beautiful tribute to your parents! I hope they read it if you would like them to do so!

    My mother is no longer living, but each time I pulled out of her driveway as I left for home, I would choke up and so would she. Those tears spoke a multitude of feelings: gratitude, joy, melancholy, and sadness at separation once again. I didn’t have a great childhood, but had an amazing mom and that’s more than enough!

    1. I don’t think anyone has a perfect childhood, but parents should always be respected for being there. Not all parents are.

  6. TK – family is definitely a blessing that is like a fine wine: as adulthood progresses, the family ties age and become ever so much richer. You are very fortunate that you have family to go back to visit with, and that it is becoming more of an even ground for all. It must be nice to go with your boyfriend and experience these things! for sure! I am happy for you, that you have these connections with Family – some, and a lot of people, do not.

    1. This is true, which is why I try to value it as much as possible. My parents my not be perfect, but they are always there for me. That’s more than a lot of people have.

      1. yes. awesome TK….parents and children….it’s awkward and tough. I just had the big “sex/body/death talk” with my son yesterday. jesus. It was great, went well -better than expected – but, f*ck…what unemotional drainer. And yes! it is more than a lot of people have;). See TK, I knew you were a good one – keep being grateful – it works wonders in life. I know it has for me, and i’m sure you’ll agree 😉
        Minneapolis_land out……

  7. I moved over 4500 miles from home, different country, different continent. Sometimes I miss the place, the longer I’m away the more appealing it seems 🙂
    Usually when I go back I enjoy it, but I have no real desire to stay, it’s funny, I love the place but it’s just not home anymore.

    The distance makes maintaining much more than a civil relationship a struggle, however I’m not sure that would be any different if I still lived there anyway :I

  8. I moved a couple of times. I finally settled in Georgia. I miss Ohio like crazy. Then we go back to visit. The first couple of days are always filled with joy, friends, and nostalgia. Then I remember all of the reasons it really was a good idea to move on. I love going back to visit but am learning that you really can’t go back home again.

    1. hahaha, that’s me exactly. While I love my parents, distance has definitely helped our relationship. It’s given me far more independence to just be myself without worrying about small town gossip reaching my parents.

  9. Superb post. I’m a Minnesota girl who moved to Colorado 17 years ago, and was well into adulthood. However, even with that being the case, I have never appreciated my parents as much as I have since I’ve moved so far away from them. And guilt plagues me every time I leave their house to come back home after a visit. However, the guilt may be a “Catholic thing.” 🙂

  10. Lovely post. I live a half hour from where I grew up. My parents still live there. We see each other and do things together all the time. We have a great relationship. They’ve always supported whatever path I chose as an adult. I love being able to share my kids with them and show my kids how wonderful a close family can be. I’ve been truly blessed.

    1. You really are blessed. I’m not sure if it would be so good if I lived that close to my parents. It’s probably one of those things where, if I’m around them all the time, I want to be away and if I’m away most of the time, I want to be close. There’s not really a way for it to be perfect.

  11. I grew up in suburban Detroit, and now I’m in central North Dakota, nearly 2,000 miles away. When I go back it’s like I know the place like the back of my hand, but it feels like a memento on a shelf for me. At any rate, that’s where my Mom is, and then my Dad and Stepmother live in Southern Illinois.

    My relationship with my dad, I feel, is the same as ever — based on mutual respect, although the dynamic has greatly matured, if you follow; I had to figure out how to respect others before I could fully appreciate a close familial relationship.

    On the other hand, interacting with my mom is more like a tenuous truce predicated on a balance of power. I’d call it a Cold War, but I’m pretty sure that we are past that phase and I hold the power crystal that is my daughter, and her existence alone is enough to keep us amicable. Still, I find that my mother keeps maturing over time and I can say that I’m proud of the person that she is becoming.

    1. I think that’s pretty normal. Both parents and children, at their own pace, have to come to terms with each other eventually. Eventually, that teen angst fades and we deserve to be treated with respect… as the parents should be as well.

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