Thanks, mom and dad, for everything

Published 8:19 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I’ve never been a parent, but I imagine being one can be pretty stressful.

As an only child in my early years, I found plenty of time to develop my keen fantasizing abilities, after all.

So it was easy to “imagine” what my parents were feeling each time I got out of line.

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It was annoyance the day this hard-headed little girl decided to put on a protest in the middle of K-Mart, after being denied my many requests for new toys. At the time, my plan to plant myself in the aisle and scream seemed flawless.

It didn’t take long before that plan foiled, leaving my mom more than humiliated and me toyless to say the least.

It was nothing but angry the day I distracted my mom into wrecking her car. After all, what little girl likes wearing seatbelts? I found them too constricting for my taste and was bound and determined not to put it on that day.

So, as we started driving, I knew Mom wouldn’t notice if I just slipped it off.

I guess I was wrong because next thing I knew, she was turned around yelling at me and then ran smack into the back of a car. That was an anger I had never known before that day, but I thought I really had done her a favor because she got to drive around a fancy rental car for a few weeks after that. It even had a car phone in it.

Then there was the day I scared my dad senseless, almost falling from our living room ceiling. My stepbrother, stepsister and I were told to stay out of the attic, and that meant only one thing — we would have to go see why.

My brother went first since he spearheaded our deviant journey. My sister and I followed close behind. We found all kinds of treasures on our attic adventure. One of those things being a loose board that sent my brother and sister falling right into the living room floor and me peeking my head through the hole to see if they were still alive.

They were alive and fractured and screaming, and it left them in casts for months. It didn’t teach us to listen to everything Dad said, but it did keep us out of the attic.

I imagine there are also times parents are just left with those feelings they don’t quite know how to label. That’s probably how my dad felt the day he came home from work, went into the bathroom and shaved off his beard.

I had never seen my dad without hair on his face, so I didn’t know who that clean-shaven man was in my house. I ran in the closet and cried as my dad tried his darndest to prove his identity, something that was not an easy task for the strange visitor.

I imagine all these different scenarios surely took their toll on my parents, but those were just things from my childhood. That doesn’t include the worries of first dates, school dances, driving for the first time, wrecking for the first time — the sadness of a child’s first broken heart, watching tears fall when her friend’s lose their lives too early — the disappointment of failing grades, experimenting with grown up things — and the financial burdens that come with raising a girl up right.

But all that said, I don’t have to imagine the stress that comes with just being a kid, and looking back, it’s been pretty easy to blame my parents for many of those troubling times I had growing up. Troubling things like curfews and discipline were easy to write off as unnecessary and just plain mean.

But a little older, it’s clear my parents’ motives weren’t as vindictive as they once seemed.

I’ve never been a parent, but I imagine that it’s not just stressful but often thankless.

So, thanks to all you child bearers out there, and of course, thanks mom and dad.

Holli Keaton is news editor of The Messenger. She can be reached via e-mail at