As you are aware of now, this blog is not only about cooking and eating in a small town but also living in one.
I’ve always been a firm believer that living in a small town, while it doesn’t completely shield you from bad things, that it buffers them somewhat. Maybe that’s a bit naive, to think that we’re at least cushioned some from the hard blow of life’s realities, but I suppose I consider it to be some measure of faith and hope as well. Regardless of where we live, anything is possible, be it good or bad, and deep down I’m aware of that, but wouldn’t it be hard to face every day waiting for the bad rather than praying for the good? I think it would.
Anyway, going on this whole tangent of good and bad things brings me full circle back to what I was actually going to talk about. Why put it up here? Because sometimes we need outlets, non judgmental ones, and I know for certain my computer isn’t going to say something witty or rhetorical or what not when I sit down and start typing, so it’s easier to let things just flow from my fingertips. I wanted to talk a little about my experiences of being a parent.
I had my first child three months before I turned 19, so I was a young parent, but don’t be judgmental. Just because I was young doesn’t mean I didn’t have any sense of responsibility. I had already graduated from high school, which I did at 17, and already taken a full semester of college. Boy, you should have seen me in modern dance class, 8 months pregnant trying to reach my toes to stretch or doing our dance final which was a routine three other girls and I had to choreograph and perform.
Anyway, I went to college, I worked, and I hardly ever went anywhere without my son. This meant watching all my friends go to parties, to get togethers to watch movies, hearing about their boyfriends and love lives because I had none. Just because I had a child at a young age didn’t mean that I was irresponsible in love. I really did, at one point, love my sons father. I didn’t actually start questioning it until a couple days after I told him I was pregnant that he told me he’d called the local churches to inquire if any couples trying to have children might want a baby, all this without my knowledge. Yes, I was a little scared to be a mom at 18, scared to tell my parents and lose their love, and scared to be a failure, but I was still excited at the pregnancy and, truth be told, I had never loved anything more than I loved this little bean, this child, that I hadn’t even seen yet.
I knew his name before he was born and I went through pregnancy without my partner, my ‘love’, because I’d left him. I had wonderful parents though, who were supportive, but anyone who has ever been through something like this knows what it feels like to not have the emotional support of that special someone, to know what it’s like to not have the father or partner present. Even if I wasn’t 18 but was instead 25, an age where it’s ‘acceptable’ to be a ‘responsible parent’, I still would have felt less than, or unworthy, for attending childbirth classes without the dad to be in tow. Oddly enough, it is validation that you, as a mother, is respected and loved in the way a partner and mother should be.
Needless to say without going through every little dirty detail about it, I sacrificed and gave a lot in order to be a good parent to my son. You see your baby and you instantly have hopes and dreams. You want the best for them. You want them happy. You want them to have a good life, to find someone who loves them as much as you do, to get married, have kids, find a career, go to college.. the works. Nothing is too good for your child!
My first born is now 19 and he’s had a hard life from about 13 on, due to circumstances he’s made for himself. He hung out with the wrong people, he did the sneaky things and a lot of it has come back to bite him. You know how it is, having that ‘same conversation’ over and over with your child about being a responsible adult. About having a life. About finding direction because heaven knows you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. I know that I’ve had that conversation for what seems like a billion and a half times and every time I have that conversation, he gets angrier. Angry at me for pressuring him and wanting the best for him, and angry at himself for, what I am certain, is not living up to my expectations even though the pressure I put on him isn’t about my expectations, it’s about my desire for him to grow up and truly transition from boy child into man and be an independent and successful man in society.
Let me tell you… having this conversation for the billionth plus times, it’s hard because you know in these moments that your child feels resentment, maybe even hate against you because ‘why can’t you just let him live his life’. He feels down on himself for being a failure and not good enough. He feels trapped, or frozen in a rut. You can see all these things when you look at his face, read his body language and meet his eyes. No matter what you say, he will never, not in this moment, realize the amount of love and admiration and care that is pouring out of you, towards him when you tell him these things.
This is where the whole love hate relationship comes in. Children may not realize it, but many days, they’re going to hate to be loved and parents will come to the realization that loving a child isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. It’s a hard, difficult process sometimes and many days, you will wake up knowing that, in that moment, your child actually hates you. Hates you for making him feel less than worthy even though, from the moment you knew he existed, you loved him unconditionally, without reason or answer as to how you could love someone so much.
I think, when we always heard the term ‘Tough Love’, we assumed that it was tough on the kid be because we were being hard on them and therefore it was Tough Love, not ‘soft, gentle, squishy love’. But Tough Love is tough on the parents to.
In the end, as I have always truly believed, love is love. And love is one of the hardest, dirtiest, most painful and yet most desired, most rewarding and most cherished things that we crave. And because this Love is so chaotic and unpredictable and beautiful all at the same time, we have to be prepared for both the good and the bad and we have to be prepared to stand firm when it comes to loving and to being loved. In the end…it’s all we can do; stand firm and look into the eye of the storm knowing that we’re going to take a beating but, after the storm, rain makes the flowers grow.