At some point, we all have the worst parents in the world. My parents earn that reputation from time to time as well. They know just how to say the just the wrong thing at just the right time. Parents have the skill to know just when the child is at the most vulnerable and the statement or action that will inflict the most angst at that time.
I always wondered what it would have been like to be raised by another set of parents. Now that I have moved away from the farm, each visit makes me wonder how I ever grew up there because I am so different today. My parents still live there and it seems like nothing has changed with them. They are doing the same things and believing the same way.
Living in the city has changed my outlook on the day-to-day being of being. The complexities of negotiating the urban landscape provide a different view of the world than the simpler survival mode found on the rural horizon. Additional opportunities present themselves on each block in the city while the country crop often remains the same from mile to mile.
As I reflect back on those days I wonder at the idea that the country produced me.
I think differently.
I act differently.
I believe differently.
Last week one of my cousins died. She was only about twenty-five years old and her life was filled with uncertainty and heartache most of which had been out of her control from conception. Her life was filled with doubts and instability. In the last few years, as an adult, she continued the patterns established in childhood. Her own children bounced between her, their father, and grandparents.
One memory I have from my early teen years is that when my cousin’s mother first announced she was unmarried and pregnant, my mother wished that she and dad could adopt the baby. They just thought it was the right thing to do. They wanted the baby to have a stable life and home.
But they are the worst parents ever. They have a modest house in the country. They have mastered the art of parental guilt. Still, they raised three sons to become responsible, faithful, and trustworthy adults with professional careers. Still, across the last week, one thought keeps coming to mind: maybe her life would have been different and she might still be alive if she had had my parents.