I couldn't believe my ears. Did they really think that way?
My wife nodded her head while affirming the statement again with "They think because you don't talk to them they've failed as parents."
I stood there stunned. Not because of the accusation really, I don't talk to my parents all that much. I sat there stunned because it seemed so obvious as to the why I don't speak to them. I had figured they understood why only sparse phone calls and visits for family updates were perfectly ok, especially given a conversation my dad and I had not even 3 months prior and the subsequent social media drama bomb it created.
I had figured wrong apparently, and with Mothers Day come and gone at least my mom gets it now. Maybe with Fathers Day approaching, I can finally convince dad.
More below the great orange satan as my parents would call it.
The resulting mindset that my folks had failed as parents have should on face value, seem rather bizarre.
I built my own home before I turned 25.
I have a well adjusted son who I love.
I am in a loving and committed relationship with my wife of over a decade now.
I don't go to church, but I do donate time and items when possible to worthy actions.
I could really laundry list items but the short story is that I am just your average run of the mill suburban dad, other than the Occupy Activism from time to time that is. That's not to try and say I don't have faults, I do. I think I have a lot of faults and hell, that's an entire diary series in and of itself. However, I would like to think that I have taken the advise of my parents as I grew up to task. I would like to think that I took it and then applied it to the best of my ability and turned myself into a level headed and responsible adult.
You would think that it would have made any parent proud, right?
You see, I used to talk to my folks a lot. But lately here within the last few years it has dropped off dramatically. That said, I don't deny them time with their grandson nor do I not call on special days or hell even the occasional weekend. I try to at least update them weekly with the goings on of all things IdBeCrazyIf household. However I do realize that this is dramatically less than I used to talk to my folks.
It was an active choice on my part really. I chose to talk to my family less of worldly items and strictly family status and information. It wasn't without reason you see, some time back my parents went from being children of the 70's and morphed into, and I really hate to say it, the stereotypical Fox viewer. They were not just your regular run of the mill right aligned viewers either, I am talking about upset that Glenn Beck is off the air type of viewer.
Given the fact that I am diarying on Daily Kos, you can prolly expect that our world views did not exactly um...align all that much anymore.
What had been mild freindly discussion regarding opposing views turned into deadly debates. Two people coming to a balanced conclusion or agreeing to disagree in calm manner then morphed into one side (and I'll let you guess which) yelling, screaming, going to all manner of extremes when confronted with facts and reason. Finally when it was all to much and one side (again I'll let you guess which) decided to break off the discussion because it had either derailed a pleasant visit or conversation the opposing side just would.not.let.it.go. Like junkyard dogs on hamburger they would dredge it up hours, days, weeks later.
It became as if every visit was for the express purpose of two sides to do battle. Gladiatorial verbal sparring was never my intent when visiting with my parents. The issue was that my parents, primarily my dad, would always drag the conversation into the political realm. Everything was a political issue, from the sky to the floor he could find a connection to the political for something. The few scant times he could not? He would just bring something up from previous verbal combats.
It became far to much for me, so I decided to keep any talk with my folks to strictly business. Health updates and family status, no more no less. In and out, done and done.
Now I know there are parents out there right now, reading this and thinking "It doesn't make them failed parents, it just makes you a terrible son". And honestly I have to say that I partially accept that label, however I would counter that really I was doing this out of love. I love my parents very much. I don't want to fight with them. I don't want every visit to be marred by the ramblings of whatever Roger Ailes shat out into the toilette that morning. I did it to keep the peace.
Apparently keeping the peace has its own casualties though.
Up until this past Mothers Day, my mom thought I hated them. She thought they had done something to anger me and change my feelings for them. It didn't help that I forgot to call her on Mother's Day either.
Yes I deserve that glare you're giving your screen right now.
She had never expressed that she thought we hated them to my wife that following day. I literally had no idea how hurt they were. So perhaps in a weird way, it was good that I had forgotten to call. Because of that I got that statement from above "They think because you don't talk to them they've failed as parents." followed with "And they think you hate them for some reason". Without knowing that, I would have never known how much my parents were hurting.
So it was with heavy heart that I knew I had to apologize, not just for forgetting Mothers Day either. I had to remind my mom that I did love her, I just really don't like fighting or arguing. I had to apologize for not expressing it better and for giving her doubt.
After the flowers, and the tears, and the wonderful afternoon spent with her my wife and my son, I would like to think that she got it. At least I hope she gets it. I hope she sees that I love her, I just don't like her views and that the two can be mutually exclusive. I think from now on, I don't have to worry about her dragging politics into everything, she was never the primary culprit anyway.
So I hope with this coming Fathers Day, I can convince my dad of the same. I don't want him thinking that just because I don't like his views doesn't mean I don't love him. I want him to understand that mutual exclusivity. That you can dislike an idea without disliking the person. Something I think that has been lost as the right and left have become so polar in the last decade.
Because in all honestly, I miss my pops.
4:44 PM PT: Thank you rangers for the rescue, and thank you for making it to the rec list. Most of all thank you community, the comments below are really and truly helpful. They have given me some altered insight and a different perspective on how I plan to approach dad.
I'll try and keep commenting best I can, assuming my five year cooperates with bed.
Fri May 18, 2012 at 11:20 AM PT: I just wanted to say I really appreciate everyone's comments. It's heartening to know so many other people who deal with the same issues day in day out and your stories really do help cancel out the frustration and weariness.