The Karma of Parenting

nana_papa This may sound like heresy, but being a father has not been an entirely fufilling experience for Older Eyes.  In my heart of hearts, I believe this is true for most parents but in our society, there is a tendency to speak of parenthood in hushed and reverent tones, perhaps so as not to scare off parents of the future.   Don’t get me wrong … there are parts of it I treasure and other parts that, though difficult, taught me valuable lessons I’d not have learned any other way.  But looking back, there are mistakes I made that I regret deeply while acknowledging that if given a do-over, I might just make a different mistake.  As my children have grown into adults, I have, rightly or wrongly, sometimes seen their poorer choices as reflections of the shortcomings of my fatherhood.  When our kids are kids, do we ever realize that they will remain our kids as adults … but that we will have even less control over them?

Perhaps one of the best things about being a parent, however, is what I like to call The Karma of Parenting, that insight about my own parents that I gain when I go through a situation with my kids (grown or not) that I put my parents through.   Through The Karma of Parenting, I get to learn that so many things my parents did that I took for granted as easy … sometimes even as FUN … weren’t.  They were doing them selflessly for me when in fact they were tired or would rather have been doing something else for themselves.  They were supportive of my decisions even when their hearts were aching.   I get to appreciate them more by the year, even if belatedly.  Do people who are never parents themselves ever learn these lessons?

This week, The Karma of Parenting turned up again, and indeed, she can be a bitch.   My son-in-law has for quite a while been unhappy with the management at his place of work and this week, he  took an interview in another state.   Since he and our daughter have been married, they have lived in the Phoenix area and we own a house there we call  our Little House in the Desert.  It is a beautiful house that has also been Nana and Papa’s house to our three grandkids.  Now, it looks like there is a good possibility they will be moving away to a place that is not a just six-hour drive away. It’s not a done deal but I’m trying to be a good father, saying I will support whatever decision you make and we’ll make the best of it.  Think of you and the kids, not us.   I’m trying not to wonder what we can get for our Little House in the crappy Arizona housing market and what we’ll do with the furnishings we love.  Or not to start checking airfares and calculating how often we could visit.   And being happy that I am in a program that tells me not to offer advise unless asked because I’d might say, Do it, and break my own heart.

Forty-five years ago, my wife, Muri, and I decided to move to California.   Our parents were supportive and acted as if they believed us when we said we’d be back in a few years.  Muri and I were talking last night and agreed, we thought nothing of it.  We had no idea of how that felt to them.  Now we do.  Thanks, Moms and Dads for not letting us know how hard it was to see us go.  We love you. And we’ll do our best to pay it forward.

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