My sisters get a lot of words written about them in this blog–it’s about time they shared the spotlight with some other pretty awesome people.
To be honest, I’ve had a hard time knowing how to write about my parents because how do you summarize a constant in your life? How do you explain and give credit to something that has remained strong and loyal since a very young age?
Right? Hard isn’t it?
Now, don’t get me wrong; my parents are far from perfect! In fact, I think they’d want me to write a “non-perfection clause” in this post somewhere. But regardless of their mistakes, they have influenced my life incredibly.
So without further ado, here are some things I’ve learned from my parents over the years:
1. Never apologize for a decision you firmly believe in: this may come across as kind of harsh, but let me explain what I mean. My parents made the decision to homeschool me and my sisters. Some people are totally cool with that…turns out a lot of people aren’t. I grew up seeing the weird looks when we went to the store with mom during school hours. Hearing the snarky remarks from people; all of it! As an adult, I’ve grown to realize how hard it can be to know that people don’t approve of your life; the eyes sizing you up and looking at you in a new light. It’s not easy! And I’ve seen my mom and dad handle it with such grace. Not to say it didn’t hurt them, I’m sure it did, but they were able to brush it off and act like they really didn’t care if others thought they weren’t making the right choice. I appreciate that about them because it gave me such an example. If you really and truly believe you are doing the best thing for your life and the lives of those involved with you, you don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t have to feel bad when other people try to bring you down! That doesn’t mean that you never take the advice of others–but you don’t have to feel bad for not taking the advice of total strangers!
2. Hospitality is one of the greatest gifts: there’s a difference between having people over in your home and really catering to and loving the people who come over. Anyone can throw a dinner party or have friends over, it takes someone really special to be a great host or hostess. My parents are the most amazing hosts you will ever meet. The food and wine flowed freely as did the talking and the stories. There was never a lull in the conversation; my parents knew how to turn people inside out; guests who came into our home who were quiet and reserved all of a sudden were telling the funniest stories and leaving us all clutching our sides from laughing. There was an openness at my parent’s table, a freedom to talk uninhibited by fear of judgement. (even though there may have been opposing views) When my parent’s hosted dinner, it was like our guests had come home in a sense. I’ve yet to perfect that skill that they have mastered so gracefully. I still don’t know how they do it! I mean, guests would stay hours after they said they had to leave. Nodding to sleep even as they are laughing and telling stories. People found it hard to go! There was a beauty and an art in their hospitality that mesmerizes me to this day and I hope one day to master myself!
3. The kitchen is the heart of the home: one of the things my parent’s are known throughout the land for is their food. My mom and dad know how to cook and they know how to cook good!! There is always an abundance of food in their house. When I would go to visit, there was always a spread of fruit or cheese or hummus just within reach. The more gourmet the food is, they more they are inclined to love it. It’s so difficult for me when I’m craving a food from my childhood (like mom and dad’s homemade biscuits and white sausage gravy!!) because when I try to duplicate their recipe, it never turns out the same. Even if I follow it to the letter!! I’m convinced there’s some kind of voodoo they use in the kitchen because their food is addictive. After my family moved to Virginia, the most frequent phrase I heard from all my friends was, “I miss your parent’s cooking! I want to have dinner at your parent’s house again…” Good food is a common thread found in my life; good food that brought family and friends together and fueled the stories of my past. And damn it! I’m craving biscuits and gravy so much right now….
4. Your family are your first friends: maybe this came from being homeschooled and always being around each other, but there was always great significance put on getting along with each other. When we were younger especially, there were a few more fights between the three of us. In particular, me and my youngest sister were the ones who didn’t get along very well. I remember one time my mom sitting down with me, pleading with me, “Mel, you’re driving a wedge between you and your sister!” Those words stuck with me and eventually wore me down until I could get over my pride and try being best friends with my sister, rather than enemies. My relationship with my sisters is closer than close. They are my first best friends (I call a lot of people my best friends….it’s a problem!) and I love them so much. My mom and dad were the cornerstone of that relationship with them, they were always encouraging us to get along and love each other because your family will always be there, no matter what! There’s a fierce loyalty that runs deep in the veins of our family and it’s really beautiful to know that if everyone on earth turned their backs on me, I’d still have them protecting me and loving me.
5. Be happy no matter what life throws your way: my parents definitely enjoy the finer things in life, it’s great because they can afford to. But they weren’t always in that position. As a matter of fact, there was a time when dinner meant eating fried bologna sandwiches because that’s all they could afford. The one thing that has characterized them throughout life is that they are happy wherever they are. Whether it was living off PB&J sandwiches, or having four different kinds of caviar to sample from at our pre-Thanksgiving snacking station. They know how to really live no matter what phase of life they are in and they make their home a happy one. I’ve learned to look at life that way through them.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I could go on and on about things I’ve learned from them; this is probably a topic I will come back to at a later time.
But for now, I will leave you with these 5 lessons I’ve learned from them throughout the years. I hope they bring you as much clarity as they have me!
p.s. I just realized how relevant this post is for today! My mom and youngest sister are flying back down South from Virginia to be with me for the arrival of the baby and they are getting here this evening. I’m so excited!! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got lots of things to do before they get here–namely pacing the house until the husband brings them home from the airport!