Parents are the bones in which children sharpen their teeth. - Peter Ustinov
My parents met at the impressionable age of fourteen. They've known each other through elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. They went to prom together, they've spent every single New Years Eve together, had three daughters, built a home, sent their children to college and watched them come back, cried, laughed, fought (barely) (just kidding), lived and loved all together.
A rarity. Two people who've remained side by side, shaped by one another, growing, flowing in and out of being in love, always remaining the same firm foundation, comfortable home, safe place and wicked tornado for over 25 years. And as I'm sitting here, it's hard to put into words what their relationship looks and feels like to me.
I grew up thinking that my family was perfect. That there was none other as close as we were. That we were one of a kind - nothing was ever going to happen to us. This is all due to my parents, the role that they played in my house, the family dinners we had, the way that they always laughed at each other. It was only until a couple of years ago that my brain started to fight with my heart. My parents aren't perfect and they never were. They are inherently different from one another, they fight, and most importantly, they are going through two very different phases of life right now - and this is all okay.
A couple of months ago, I came across an article titled, "When Did You Realize Your Parents Aren't Perfect?" This is when it just hit me. I'm in a weird place with my mother and my father right now - with their "too much relationship" or "too little relationship." I don't know which it is or how I could even tell. And it's this moment that I'm realizing the extent to which their bond effects me: my mood, my hope for the future, my hope for the future of my own family, everything. My parents have been placed in the center of my world, for my whole life, and everything that I've ever learned, directly and indirectly, has stemmed from their teachings, the way that they talk to each other, their apologies, where their laughter is found, the nature in which they sit side by side during a long car ride.
My adulthood has shaped a vastly different perspective of my parents to one that I grew up with. I see now how they are and have always been separate beings, with their own pulse, who did everything in their power to become one during mine and my sisters' childhood. Why? To create a heart of the household - one in which you could hear it's beating from a mile away. It was happy and together and full and warm and had a front door to which no one was a stranger and it was mine, and Cristina's and Brianna's.
Times have changed, though, we grew up, and everything is different. Physical distance, responsibilities, moods, life, has placed boundaries on the relationships of my family. What do parents become when they have no one to parent? How do you feel when your children grow up? This is something I have yet to feel, but want to understand, more and more everyday. My parents during this middle phase? Adapting, laughing (most days), living, and moving forward. Same as they've been doing this entire life of theirs. Changing to the times - together. Understanding one another to their bones, but some days, not speaking to each other, fighting, and even bringing their daughters into the middle of it.
This "middle phase" of an immediate family is rarely touched upon. You grow up in the same house, with the same people, safe and happy for your entire life. Then, you move away, and nothing is the same, nor will it ever be again. I'm having a hard time accepting the fact that the life you lived for twenty years and loved SO much, gets further and further away from you, and becomes something that you try to hold onto and replicate forever.
I can see it in my mom's eyes a little easier than I can see it in my dad's, that something is missing. There is a part of my mother and my father that doesn't want to let go and, sometimes, they don't know how to react to it. Time moves and it takes no mercy. Life is going to keep happening and there are going to be good times and bad times and times when you want to kill each other and times that you just don't understand and times when you want to hold the other until everything's okay again.
And that is what my parents will do - hold onto each other and make this life okay for my sisters and I. I'm so grateful for the love that they poured into my family while I was growing up - it was a constant, a high standard for what a family is supposed to feel like. I'm grateful to them for making everything okay - even when times weren't. I'm grateful for how they taught me how to fight for others, how to put things aside for the greater good. I'm grateful for my parents finding each other - becoming each other's spines.