I Blame My Parents

Maybe it's just me, but does it seem like, any more, people have trouble accepting responsibility for their own actions?  If there's someone else who can possibly be blamed, they take the fall, right?  There's very little personal accountability.  And parents.  Oh man, the parents.  They get blamed for everything.

They didn't hug enough.  They didn't pay close enough attention.  They spanked.  They provided processed food and passed it off as edible.  They coddled.  They were on their phone 24/7.  They worked too much.  They disapproved of my choices and made me feel unloved.  They gave me everything I ever wanted and now I don't know how to provide for myself.  They let me play video games around the clock and now reality is too much of a shock, or at least a bummer.  They never let me have any fun, so I tried everything new and exciting there was to try in college and my adult life has suffered for it.

Well, since it's the trendy thing to do, I'm here today to blame my parents for some of my most prominent qualities.  That's right.  I'm totally calling them out.  This is just a small list of things plucked from the years I lived under Joyce and John's roof.

For these things, I blame my parents:

1.  I will do my very best to honor my commitments.  
Yeah, that's right.  When I say something, I mean it.  If I tell you I'll be there, I'm going to do my darnedest to show up.  Even when I don't feel like it.  And if I can't make it, I have a really good excuse.  Promise.  My dad taught me this.  Well, my dad and Cal Ripken, Jr.  You know, back in the days when athletes were worth emulating and played on even with a broken nose or a hurt back.  2632!

2.  I am totally okay with being bored.
As a family, we weren't much on "joining" things. I didn't play an organized sport until middle school when I begged to play floor hockey intramurals after school.  I wasn't in Girls Scouts or Brownies or any of the other things little girls do.  In the summer time, I didn't go to camp.  I knew how to pick up a book, or take a bike ride, or play with my toys, or call up a friend, or cut random shapes out of paper, or pretend I was setting up a home security system with a broken video camera.  And most of the time, I did these things alone. I was okay with that.

3.  I believe that doing hard, physical labor is meaningful work.
My dad graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the country (Johns Hopkins University) with (in my opinion) an elite degree in the field of mechanical engineering.  He could have worked anywhere, done anything.  He's one of the smartest people I know.  Before he graduated from college, he got a job at the steel mill where his father worked and he stayed there for decades.  He worked like a dog.  He did the hard brainy things, but he also did physical labor.  And he would come home and work like a dog too.  He would chop firewood, lay flooring, repair the vehicles.  He would sweat and not complain.  And when he was finished he would sigh and smile, and happily drink a cold (or hot) beverage.  He didn't have to say it, but the work was gratifying.  You could just tell.  My dad was never (and isn't to this day) above doing hard work.  Digging trenches isn't just for the uneducated.  There is value in getting your hands dirty.  My dad learned it from his dad.  And my mom's father was the same way.  It's a cool thing to take ownership of a project from start to finish.  Even and especially when it's tough.

4.  I have trouble spending money on anything.
Call it my Scotch-Irish heritage, but I have the hardest time parting with money.  One time, in 1999, I bought a pair of jeans for $9.99 at a store called Gabriel Brothers (kind of like Ross, I guess).  Since then, I have had a hard time spending anymore than that on a pair of jeans.  It set the precedent and, screw inflation, I'm not spending more than $10 on pants.  (Okay, that's extreme, and I've gotten over it...but it took a few years.)  My family was not poor growing up, but sometimes, we lived like we were.  My parents did not carry debt.  They made excellent, wise choices with their money.  We didn't buy name brand anything.  They paid cash for their vehicles (and drove them until the wheels fell off).  We ate every meal at home, save for our after church splurge once a week at Taco Bell, McDonalds, or Subway.  We didn't go on extravagant vacations.  We lived within our means.  And I'm so grateful for that in retrospect.

5.  I cry.  All the time.
My mother is most notorious for shedding tears at weddings, funerals, graduations, movies, your standard Sunday morning church service, the checkout counter of a department store after striking up a conversation with the cashier.  It used to embarrass me.  That is, until I turned into her.  I well up pretty much three times daily.  Not just sad tears, but happy tears.  Life is emotional.  And my mom taught me that it's okay to show it. 

6.  I laugh.  All the time.
See #5.  Plus, I blame my dad for the fact that at least once daily I quote Seinfeld or some stupid comedy from the 90's (namely Dumb & Dumber).

7.  Seeing people in need hurts my heart.
My mother and father are two of the most generous people I have ever known.  If they see a need, they try to meet it.  I grew up watching them clothe the homeless, feed the hungry, and comfort the sorrowful.  They were intentional and specific.  And because they'd made good financial decisions they were able to generously meet the needs of others when the opportunities presented themselves.  They never did it for recognition, and I'm sure I don't know half of the needs they met back then and continue to meet to this day.  I do know, however, that my grandfathers were both the same way.  So, maybe I should be blaming them.  Point is, they instilled this in me.

8.  I had to marry a handy man.
He's not a handyman by trade, but there's nothing the man won't or can't do.  If he doesn't know how, he learns.  Install french doors in our dining room?  Remodel a bathroom and turn it into two rooms?  Replace the motherboard on a refrigerator?  Make obscure repairs to the cars?  Create a fuse with nothing but a paperclip?  Yup.  He's done those things.  And many, many more.  I blame this particular item on the importance of numbers 3 and 4.  Joint effort on my parents' part.

9.  When I'm feeling confused, lost, upset, nervous, excited, joyful, sad, I know I can find an answer in Scripture.
Whether it's because I spent as much time at church as I did at home or because every time I went to my dad for advice he quoted a passage to me, I'm not sure, but either way, totally blameable on them.

10.  I have a crazy, random taste for music. 
My dad stopped listening to "new" music around 1970, so I grew up to the songs of the Four Seasons, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Mamas and the Papas to name a few.  My mom had every Elvis record he ever made and really likes Christmas music.  Now they listen to country and gospel, sometimes both at the same time.  I guess this explains why a few of my favorites are Alan Jackson, Alanis, Third Day, Mariah Carey, and NSync (especially at Christmas).

Not exhaustive, but that's enough to get me started.  So what about you?  What attributes of your character can you blame on your folks?


Mrs. Flatt said...

The crying at everything must run on both sides of the family, because my mother and I weep several times daily. I don't think I've ever actually seen our mothers together when they didn't shed at least a couple tears...

Sharon said...

Jennie - we have a lot in common (except for the obvious difference in our ages - like 5 years or so...ahem). Both of my grandmothers were born in Scotland, and my father graduated from Cornell with a degree in mechanical engineering. My mom is also a very emotional person, and has a great sense of humor.

Sadly, just last week, my dad passed away rather unexpectedly. And so, part of what I've been doing in the last few days is remembering him, and pondering his life and the values and traits of his that I carry with me. Many of them correlate with yours.

So, I will add just these two thoughts. I am the only one in my immediate family that has his eye color. My sister and brother both inherited my mom's blue eyes. I have Dad's hazel eyes. And, in the last two weeks, I have had a special feeling when I looked into his eyes looking back at mine - our common color sorta gave me an extra sense of connection, if that makes any sense.

And the other thing is something that I learned from my dad - family is everything. Never take for granted the people that you love, for life is short (even if it lasts a long time). I have never been more grateful for those I love, and my time with them is even more precious.


Debbie said...

I know this is impossible, but are you SURE you weren't really raised by my parents?

I know the crying one fully well because (I hope) I will never forget the day I met your mother. I'm sure she has zero clue who I am, but I remember her. She spoke to me so deeply and wisely, and she was crying the whole time. I have never forgotten the advice she gave me. I have passed it to others.

Loved all of these, and I will tell you very sincerely that I can observe these qualities in you.

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