Best One Yet

breakfast with dad (1)

 Breakfast with dad for his birthday

Went out for an early breakfast with my dad and siblings this morning at the local truck stop.   This event has become an annual event that I have started to look forward to.

Mom was not there, although I asked her if she would join us.  She told me,  when she is there, dad will  let her do most of the talking so she wanted to stay home and not take away from his special day.

Growing up, dad, by his own admission was a workaholic and was not present for most of our growing up years.  Not until I was in my 40’s did  dad begin an annual ritual where he would take each of the kids out, one on one, for a birthday breakfast.  At some point, the idea came to us that wouldn’t it be fun to take him out on his birthday…and the rest is history.

This whole birthday get together did not start until dad was in his 70’s.

There is definitely a life lesson there for me…it is never to late to reverse longstanding inter personal family  life patterns.  What it takes is a good dose of humility, and courage to be the first person to make a move.   In my case,  it was my dad who first moved out of his comfort zone.  That’s not saying there wasn’t a fair amount of dead air  those first several birthdays..we didn’t have  a lot to talk about except work, which ended up being mostly what we talked about. 🙂

This morning’s breakfast  was definitely the best one yet for me.  The youngest one of my siblings is now well into her 40’s…most of our children have graduated high school…all except for one nephew.

I am the first-born,  my oldest will turn 35 in a couple of weeks, so I am a few miles ahead of the rest of my siblings.

One of the things I enjoy  hearing is the parenting questions/ struggles of my siblings.

“Enjoy” is a relative word.

I coul write several dozen blog posts on those years that we navigated those teen through late 20’s years.  I told someone recently, it was like being lost in the Amazon jungle for 15 years, not sure where we were most of the time, hacking my way through dense undergrowth, one challenge after another…until one day..we finally came into a clearing…

The whole parenting gig changed me.  It broke me in some areas.  I have a much more healthy concept of my role in their lives as adults.

I am their peer.

I work really hard at NOT putting pressure on any of their choices.

A controlling parent of an adult child is an ass.

He or she needs to learn how to back off.

I’ve always tried to see parenting as me trying to work myself out of a job.

Like the eagle that stirs the nest (ie. kicks their baby out of the nest so it is forced to learn to fly.)

So sitting around 4 other parents who are at different phases of the process is really quite interesting…;.

And there @ the end of the table sits my dad, who has had to walk through the same process with each of us.

He did bring up the time he found me asleep in the cab of the combine, after a night of partying this morning at breakfast. 🙂

I laughed.   So did the rest of them.

” Some of us got caught, and some of us didn’t.”  said my sister.

DM

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16 thoughts on “Best One Yet

  1. Wonderful post. I so agree about controlling parents. I don’t even get it, because all it does is push the kids away. Also, you said, “it is never to late to reverse longstanding inter personal family life patterns.” So very true. Mom and I were working on that until the day she died at nearly 102. We never totally succeeded, but we never stopped trying. How cool that you and your dad have this time. Happy Father’s Day.

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    • and that is so encouraging that you and your mom were working on your relationship right up until the end…102…wow! thanks for taking the time to comment Martha! DM

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  2. It’s definitely easier to stick your nose in as a parent of an adult child when they are still living at home (that job post issue I wrote about is what I have in mind here). I’ve also found it was much easier to let go with my son, but I see my oldest daughter and her family very often so those tendencies to micro-manage really have to be stifled.
    I dislike not seeing my son and his wife very often, but perhaps the reality is that he has done me, and himself, a favor.

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    • I really enjoyed your post on your daughter’s job situation. How far away does your son live from you, if you don’t mind me asking? (we have some of our kids who are relatively close, and two that we only see every few months.) Always a treat when they are home.

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      • He’s only about an hour away, but his, and his wife’s work schedule have them commuting in horrendous traffic each day, which means their weekends are usually busy doing everything they couldn’t get done during the week. Emails read at our leisure has become the easiest and best means to catch up for us and allows mom to know that they’re still alive and well 🙂

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  3. Nice to have family get-togethers. The last was my Mum’s 80th birthday, arranged by yours truly. I had hoped my sister would arrange something for Mum’s 90th but she didn’t. Sadly my family is not close, and I often wish we were more like the Waltons, but it ain’t gonna happen.

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      • I’m the youngest of four, two brothers (one in the Midlands and the other in New Zealand) and a sister. My Dad died in 1996 and Mum, who lives with my widowed sister, celebrated her 93rd birthday last month. I am closest to my brother in NZ as other brother and Sis and I don’t really see eye to eye. I try to see Mum at least once a month but we are two and a half hours (at least) away and it’s not a pleasant journey. Still, at least we are closer than we were a year ago, which was a journey of up to seven hours. Sadly there are a lot of family politics too and I grew tired of being the scapegoat for blame all the time.

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  4. I loved this post, DM. Those moments don’t come along often and it’s wonderful that you all value the time enough to make it happen. One day he will be gone and you “kids” will find yourselves talking about those breakfasts 🙂

    When I go home, my Mom likes nothing more than to have us all together. I watch her watch us and she just beams to see us together and interacting. Good stuff right there.

    MJ

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    • thanks MJ. I already have those thoughts every time I stop into that truck stop…one day, probably in the not too distant future, dad will not be coming along. (I can just see your mom soaking up the interaction of all of her kids around the table) I do it myself 🙂 So cool the two of you get to travel together this August. making memories….

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  5. Family patterns – ours is not letting go of old issues, and as the only “local” daughter ( of three), I play mediator two to three times a year.
    Social media, oddly has helped in this area. We acknowledge and comment on each other’s FB posts – send encouraging notes when needed. Someday we’ll all travel together. I hope sooner versus later.

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  6. It’s interesting to think of how our priorities change as we age. I think of where I put my time and energy when I was a teenager and young 20-something and it looks a whole lot different from my focus in my 30s and 40s. The me of my 50’s would probably be unrecognizable to the me of decades ago. I completely agree with you–it’s never too late to change those patterns. And changing them may be part of the natural progression of our lives. Great post DM.

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  7. I have one aunt and three cousins left, and their practice is a slight variation of yours. They all live so close, and so often are together in a group, that when my aunt’s birthday rolls around, each of them takes the time to take her out for breakfast: just the two of them. It’s a nice reminder of that early time in life when the mother-child bond was at its most intense, and, in a way, it’s a ritual of re-bonding.

    I was struck by this: “A controlling parent of an adult child is an ass. He or she needs to learn how to back off.” As one who had a controlling mother, I had to learn that she wasn’t an ass, she was fearful. And, the older she got, the more fearful (i.e., controlling) she became. Once I understood that, “I’m afraid something will happen to you” actually meant, “I’m afraid no one will be here to take care of me,” things improved. Instead of simply fighting against her efforts to control, I found ways to address the underlying fear, and things got better, fast.

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    • Linda, I’m glad you unpacked the issue of control from your perspective. The fear thing makes a lot of sense. I personally have been blessed with having two parents (both still alive) who are not controllers. One of my children on the other hand is married to someone whose parents are manipulative, control freaks, I am constantly amazed at what they come up with and why in the world they feel the kids need to accommodate their wishes. I’m pretty sure the “angst” you may hear in this post is directed at them

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