Posted by: Ed Deiss | May 6, 2016

Always Mom and Dad

always mom and dadThis was not the plan, was it? It sure was not mine, either as a child or an adult. Not that I knew any better. What now?  Are there times you wish you could understand better what your kids are thinking and experiencing? You may have had both your parents in your life during your childhood years and it is hard to relate to what they are going through. I was raised in Asia by a single parent, my Dad. He did not plan it that way, nor did my Mom. I also have a brother and we did not grow up together, as he was with Mom in America. I left the United States when I was nine. However, what is certain and that I do know is that each of them are part of who I am.

They always have been, and will be, my Mom and Dad.

I wrote to the relationships with my Mom, Dad and brother as when I came home that day when I was seven and she was gone, I certainly did not foresee the relationship I now have with my Mom when I was a child and young adult. I was naturally close to my Dad. Family relationships are dynamic, they can’t be predicted by a math formula or put on a project plan and expected to stay on schedule. What were some of the things I learned and observed? If I take some time to look through that childhood lens with introspection of being a child of a single parent and now one myself, what do I see?

 – Free to make choices, not free from the consequences – Lives are a summation of choices and decisions, and what seems to get lost is that as free as we all are to make choices, the consequences are not free to choose.  My parents made choices and decisions and in the midst of the battle, there was pain inflicted. My brother and I fully recognize that in addition to us being split apart, they hurt each other as well.  Children are subject to, and affected by, their parents choices. As with parents, children are not free to choose the consequences.

 – Connection to the other parent – While the other parent is not there, the connection is felt and always there. I felt it, though my Mom had to face the consequence that no parent wants to face, namely which child to keep and which to let go. I was the one she let go. Though on the other side of the world, knew I was connected to her and my brother. Recognize and allow that connection to the other parent to be felt.

 – The effects can last a lifetime, have to know what to keep and let go – It was not that long ago that I asked my Mom why she and my brother were not there when I left America for Singapore. Did not know when I would see them again or what our relationship would ever become.  As opposite sides of the same coin, my brother and I have both had to work through being disillusioned and abandoned by the other parent. It is hard for both of us to reconcile. I had to let go of ‘stuff”;  my brother and I both enjoyed our childhoods even though in different worlds. However it has been my experience that as resilient as my brother and I became, this is an issue you are going to have to deal with for a while. Be authentic, be real, be prepared.

 – Engage your mind before your mouth – It is natural for parents to protect their kids, and my Dad’s parents were no exception. My parents divorce was not amicable by any means, it was a battlefield. My Mom wanted out. She has told me many times, she had to let me go to save herself. That did not sit well with my grandparents and they often spoke ill of my Mom. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my grandparents and loved being around them. I did understand their son was hurt, and there is that natural instinct of all parents to protect.  We all have our grandparents blood in us as well, and therein lies another conflict. The insults are akin to twisting a knife inside a warring soul. Whatever you or your family think of the other parent, engage your mind before you speak and think about who you are really hurting.

 “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams

 – The virtues of resilience and patience – The ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change, that is resilience.  There was misfortune and change to go around and watching the resilience of my Dad close up served as a model. As I got to know my Mom as an adult, I came to appreciate her resilience. My Dad also modeled patience at the right times. The relationship I now have with my Mom would not have come about without patience. It is often said that kids are resilient when it comes to experiencing the chaos of divorce and/or loss of a parent; I can also say that it certainly helps when it is modeled.

“…life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. We are in charge of our attitudes.” – Charles Swindoll

 – Attitude is everything  – When it comes to the day-to-day and dealing with the way things turned out, I’m reminded of what legendary basketball coach John Wooden said: “Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” When I started this blog on Father’s Day 2012, the attitude my Dad modeled for me was at the forefront of my mind. As I reconnected with my Mom, her courage to face herself and her attitude has been another reminder of how important a role it plays.

 – Whatever your issues, own it – My Mom had soul searching to do. My Dad had anger and grief to get through.  They each had to own their issues and face themselves; it takes courage to do that.  I witnessed my Dad get through the storm. For my Mom, she had storms of her own and I had to be patient. If she had not been authentic, rolled up her sleeves, and done the work to face herself we would not have the relationship we have today.  I also realize there is no way she could have been married to my step-dad for now over 30 years had she not taken care of those issues. Thank you Mom!  Own and face your issues, make it a priority. As I did, your kids will see the difference.

 – Authentic forgiveness takes time, however certainly worth it – When a parent lets you go and leaves, how do you forgive that? Natural disillusionment and hurt kicks in. The road to forgiveness is uphill, and certainly easier said than done; it takes strength. The connection with my Mom was always there and her authenticity in owning what she did and the underlying issues helped me understand at the right time; we almost did not get that time, as her life was nearly taken away.  She dealt with it through action and facing herself. I knew I had to be ready and let go of the pain with which I was holding onto and hurting myself. I needed to forgive, afterall I have been forgiven. True forgiveness is a gift to yourself.  Allow the time and space to forgive others. It may be that forgiveness is not deserved, rather you deserve peace.

 – It is not the end – I only have vague memories of my parents together, the picture (of a picture) in this post is one of the few. That was the way it was and, at the time, thought the way it would be.  That is my Mom and Dad and they still are, as you will be to your kids. There will always be a connection, and truly connecting strengthens the connection.

Having lived through it all and now as a single parent looking ahead, can honestly say:

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

Until next time,

Ed

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