Have you ever had that moment of realization as a mom? That moment when you realize, without a doubt, what a dick you were to your parents as a kid? The first time I encountered this was when I was about 23 and had this moment of clarity that my parents might actually know something that I don’t. That wasn’t so much me feeling like a jerk, as much as a second of wonder and awe that I’d never caught on to their intelligence until then.
My most recent, jaw-dropping realization hit me more like a ton of bricks: I was an ungrateful beast!
This discovery came after an evening out with my daughter. I’d taken her and a friend for a real (expensive) treat: getting a pedicure (which somehow turned into a manicure, as well, without my prior permission.) By the end of it, I was out a chunk of change, but it felt worth it to do something extra special on a girls night. They were thrilled – with smiles from ear to ear. Then, we got in the car and they immediately started asking me what was next. “Are we going out for dinner?” “Lets go get ice cream.” “How about Starbucks?” Um, how about some gratitude?!
I understand, being a parent is a thankless job for the most part. But it really shouldn’t be! It’s our jobs to teach our children manners, respect and thankfulness and obviously I’m not doing the best job at that.
As I was sitting here, feeling sorry for myself about how ungrateful my kids were (especially after I made them banana splits and instead of saying “thank you,” they told me I’d gotten their order wrong…) I realized I had never truly thanked my parents. They raised me with proper manners, so I know I’d said the obligatory, “thank you” in the past. But, had I really meant it?
At this point, I texted my mom. Yes, texted. Because had I called her, I probably would have been a complete mess, sobbing into the phone in such a way that only your mother can comprehend what you are saying. So yes, I texted her. I started with the “I’m sorry” and then moved into the “thank you” for everything I could think of all these years later: feeding me, clothing me, cleaning up my barf, comforting me after I’d barfed, etc. And she laughed. You see, she’d come to this same realization about her own mother years before. Apparently, it’s all very cyclical in nature: Daughter is a jerk to mom until years later her daughter is a jerk to her and she apologizes to her mother. And repeat.
So, 25 years. I guess that’s when I can expect my “thank you.” Until then, I’ll teach them all the manners and the times they should say it and pray that at some point they’ll really feel it and be truly thankful for those around them. And not just me.
One last thing: my daughter did hug me and tell me, “thank you for today,” which was the sweetest thing I could have asked for. And, for the record, they do say it, just not all the time…