Friday, July 20, 2012

A Cool Thing

When was the last time you took a good look at someone close to you? A parent, for instance? Have you ever stepped back and saw your mother or father as another human, rather than your mother or father?

As I've entered into my adult years, those moments are occurring more often. I'm realizing that, just like me, Mom and Daddy are having new experiences all the time. They didn't get a practice run, to hone their skills, then decide to hit rewind and do life again - this time with kids. It doesn't work like that.

More than that - my parents are people. When was the last time I tried to get to know them as people, the way I'd try to get to know a new friend?

I thought of this tonight as I watched Mom play badminton with one of my sisters. I stood on the deck, head tilted to one side. With my eyes squinted, I could imagine I saw in the gathering dusk, not a mother, but a young girl, playing on a side lawn in New York, years ago.

From what I understand, Mom could hold her own quite nicely with the neighborhood boys in most any sport, be it softball, kickball, or ping-pong. She was quite the tomboy back then. And musical, too - spending hours practicing clarinet or guitar. Now she never plays anything - just listens to us, and encourages us to practice.

I never stopped to think, until the last few years, about mothers having hobbies. After all, is that allowed? They cook, and raise children, and play taxi, and counsel daughters and sons, and make appointments, and help their husbands, and clean the house, and organize the schedule,....and a million other things that we couldn't do without. ...But do you mean mothers actually have playful little quirks, and likes and dislikes, and hobbies and inside jokes, and secret dreams and desires....just like me?

You mean she's just like any other me, in fact? She may be super, but she's not a super woman, immune to the little details that make up a real person?

Does it sound odd that such a fact has dawned on me slowly, over the last several years? But it has.

And you know what?

I like it.

It's like when you read a book by an amateur, and it's okay, but the characters are flat, 2-dimensional, predictable things. They all sound the know what they're going to do before they do it...they sound like bad actors, reading a script with too much emphasis in the wrong parts....They are people because they have a head and two legs, but deep inside you know they aren't people.

Then you open the covers of a really good book, written by a master storyteller; and the characters jump off the page to walk and breathe in the room around you while you listen and watch, spellbound. You know, deep inside, that these....these, my friend, are people.

And I've finally woken up to the fact that my parents are people. Wonderful, living, emotional, history-filled, genuine people. They were children. They were young adults. They met and fell in love. They had to learn how to be a husband and wife to each other.

And God actually gave them babies! He sent one after another....and my parents had to learn how to change diapers and wipe baby food off chubby cheeks. They had to stumble through groggy days because of short, noisy nights. Then they learned how to teach, and how to counsel, and comfort, and lead. All the while that I was growing were they.

God gave me to these two people. He could have picked anybody....but He picked them.

It's the coolest thing.


Deb said...

Amber, you're a good writer, and I really liked this post! ~ Mrs G

Amanda said...

Good thoughts!! I've felt some of the same things about my brothers and sisters. What a blessing to have those moments of realization, and be able to thank God for our families of unique individuals! We are so blessed!