Life with My 2 Girls does not exist in a vacuum. It’s not the story of my life with them, or theirs with me. It’s intended to offer a glimpse of who we are together as a family, and that story begins with who I was as part of my family. Life with My 2 Girls is an inclusive family forum, weaving in bits and pieces of those who have most influenced who I am. The “those” to which I refer are my mom and my dad. Any articulation of who I am as a person, as a parent, or even who I still strive to be, will always be reflective of who they are as parents to me. Through these pages I introduce the two people who have most influenced and inspired everything I have as a maternal offering to life with my 2 girls.
My childhood was as eventful or uneventful as I chose it to be. You see, my parents already had their girl and their boy. They were happy, settled and balanced when 3+ years later came *accident #3, and another 3 years later, *accident #4 – that’s me. My sister and I were given much more latitude and freedom than my oldest sister and only brother. I guess by the time we were in the teen years, my parents were parenting professionals and figured we didn’t need as much micro-managing as the others. Or perhaps the late 70s/80s were less worrisome than the early 70s. Not sure. I do know that this freedom we enjoyed was a coveted benefit, and one that had to be exercised with much responsibility…which it was for the most part. I can’t remember either of us, well, none of us actually, getting into trouble or hanging with the wrong crowd. It was all good.
What my parents did for me is allow me to be who I was supposed to be. They didn’t force me to be this, or do that, or get this grade or be in this club. (Besides, if I wanted a certain grade on something, I just asked dad for help and he usually took over the project and I went about my business doing the fun stuff a child does while he finished it.) I had to make decisions on my own about who and what I would be, and then be accountable to those decisions. Okay, so maybe allowing me to decide not to stay for the remainder of the 2 weeks at Camp Fire Girls’ Camp Wi-Ta-Wentin 3 hours away, requiring them to leave the rest of the family behind on July 4th to come get me because I was “homesick” was a bit much in the “freedom of choice” category, but you can have hamburgers any day of the week and I couldn’t handle 1 more day with the swimming/camp dictator making me do laps (otherwise presented as “homesickness” with sobbing for extra drama). That’s just responsible parenting!
As I reflect back, the only conclusion to be made is that I truly had a fun and love-filled childhood. There was never a summer without a family vacation. There was never an event that one or both didn’t attend. If a team needed a coach, mom or dad helped out. Our big Christmas Eve party was such an anticipated event for me and others each year as they hosted family, friends and neighbors. We never missed Mardi Gras parades or Mardi Gras day – Dad had an amazing collection of doubloons. They introduced me to country music concerts in the Superdome as I got older. They have always been young at heart, enjoying many activities with us and continuing on into their empty-nest years, like riding their bikes to the French Quarter or City Park via the ferry boat across the Mississippi River. They represented the best of middle-class, family-fun entertainment and togetherness. I still love every moment of time I get to spend with them. In fact, our friends enjoyed our parents as well and still do. They did their absolute best as parents…and still do.
Were they perfect? Absolutely not, and neither would allow me to ever profess such a statement. That’s just not who they are , but writing about imperfections serves no purpose for any of us beyond taking up valuable space that can be better served by sharing how those same imperfections allow us opportunities to fail so we can learn and grow and become that much more awesome. There are many things I do differently than they did simply because those decisions are aligned with the person I’ve become, which ironically, is built upon their many influences. My parents were very unobtrusive – I’m all up in the girls’ business, but because it’s how I show my love for them and concern for their well-being, just as my parents did, with a different approach. They rarely offered unsolicited advice or opinions – I must have received their combined supplies of both, but I still call my mommy and daddy exclusively with certain questions. They didn’t scrutinize my performance or grades – Olivia and Emma, quite unfortunately, are not shielded from such scrutiny, but no one shows more pride and celebration of my achievements than mom and dad ever did and still do!
What I most want to share about my my mom and dad is how incredibly appreciative they are of everything or anything they receive or have, always placing little value on material things. What they have consistently valued above all other earthly things is their relationship with their children. There is no better or more vivid image of unconditional love than that which my parents have unselfishly lavished upon each of us over the years. Olivia and Emma, for that characteristic that was graciously passed on to me, you can each thank your grandparents.
(Note: The term “accident” was replaced by my husband several years ago with the term “surprise” after he noted with great compassion how offensive the former sounded as opposed to the delight incited by the latter. It’s also important to note that the compassion was not directed to me, but to our daughter Olivia. Before my conversion, I occasionally referred to my dear first born child as an “accident”, but with no ill intent, which of course never negates the resulting impact to the person. I may have even made her aware that the “accident”, now known as a “surprise”, resulted from a sticker mixup in the Catholic sticker book.)