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.
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?