My mother would take my calls in my angst. Fresh from therapy. She would stop me, light a cigarette, then state, “Ok...I was a bad mother and I didn't raise you right. What are we working on today?”
I giggle now at her forthrightness but I appreciate she was there. She understood her limitations as a teen parent. She understood herself as a human being raising another human being. She understood she was not perfect. She was fallible. For that I am grateful.
I've met many adults who still harbor ill will toward their parents. They still blame their parents for how their life turned out. They are in their 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70's. Some have raised their own children. They've lived their lives.
My father was not as demonstrative in my crying and angry calls but he sat and listened. He encouraged me. He allowed me the opportunity to grow.
I know my parents are different from many others. I can't imagine still carrying stuff from that time in my life. I don't hold them accountable for their decisions. I understand them now because I have my own kid. We make choices. We have to learn to live with them. They did the best they could with the circumstances they were in.
I tell people who bemoan a parent when they are in their 40's that it is time to "let it go". Release it into the universe. Write a letter – send it or not. Forgive. Live your life.
It saddens me when they carry it for so long. They are reliving a life they wanted. They wanted different choices to be made. I only want for them to accept what happened. Talking about it and carrying it to beat yourself up is not doing anyone justice.
My father died by the time he was 53. He was an incredible man. I wish you knew him. You knew kindness. You knew devotion. You knew he cared for his people. He loved his children. He only wanted the best for us. He encouraged me in school. He was proud of my accomplishments. He took very good care of me in the best way he knew how. He allowed me to be me. For that I am grateful.
My mother is still here and I enjoy her calls. She is a great parent to adult children. She is much like my father. Kind, devoted, and loves her children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren/step-children.
It is my hope that people learn to let go of what was. Heal, forgive, and grow. When you stop growing and holding on then you are not living. I know my parents gave me that gift. They gave me that permission. I in turn forgave, let go, and live. I hope that everyone else who is holding on can do the same.