Growing up is absorbing work. One minute your only concern is to convince your parents to give you dessert whether or not you have eaten your assigned allotment of brussel sprouts, and the next you have to fashion a self that will stand the time honored tests of middle school, puberty, young adulthood.
As we diligently construct ourselves, what we might miss is our parents growing up too. They transform from the parents of giggling (or scowling) little babies into the parents of adults. Fellow grown-ups who hold jobs and create families. Who know things and think things as peers. But who are still their children.
It can’t be easy. Remaking yourself is a Herculean task in and of itself, but to do so out of such necessity and following the schedule of the tiny creature that was once your baby…
I’ve seen the pictures. I know my parents were my age once. I’ve finally looked at those photos and discovered, “my god they were younger than me.” They were two young and loving kids who wanted armfuls of babies (well, Linda wanted, but José was game). They are now older, loving grown-ups with a small army of adult friends who happen to be their progeny.
My parents have with dealt this involuntary transition with remarkable aplomb. I think there were some rough patches, but Linda and José have what I can only describe as grace. Their children have aged and demanded to be taken seriously, and whatever else they may have had going on, whatever ideas about themselves they had fashioned over two decades or so of parenting little kids, they have indulged us. They have accepted our adulthood. We can all be adults together now.
We can all be open and honest like peers. They still hide things from us to protect us (or some similar instinct) because they still want to shelter us from what they can. It isn’t hard to do. We have learned to take them absolutely at their word (for the most part). We don’t pry or wonder. Maybe this is because we are selfish and self-centered, but I’d like to believe that, just as they accept us as the personalities we are, we accept them as the parents they want to be. We are keen to let them be the magical wonder-adults they were when we were little.
We love that they are our friends, colleagues in the work of life. But equally we still love that they are our parents, who can say the right thing and fix what is wrong with ease. From moment to moment they may not know if they will need to dispense fraternal commiseration or coddling and reassurances. What hard guess work! They are our parents, and they do it remarkably well.