As part of my series “who am I”, one of those things is a daughter. I am not intending to offend or place blame. This post is to help me introspectively look at myself and see the evolution of how I came to be the daughter I am today. I have wonderful parents and I have been blessed to have bonus parents who entered my life after my parents divorced (I was an adult when they divorced). I can honestly say that I love ALL my parents!
When I look back on my life and consider the sort of daughter I was I realize, I could have done better. I could have done worse, but definitely could have done better! I was born the second of three kids to my parents when they were VERY young… my mom was 19 and my dad was 21. Both came from large families with very little. As with all parents, their goal was to do better than the previous generation…that is a continued hope for each generation, and it was the same for me; to do better for my kids than what I had growing up.
My dad was in the army and my mom, as it is with all army wives, could not really settle into a career due to constant moving around experienced by military families. I can’t imagine how hard that was for them as parents. It was tough for the whole family, but I imagine while it was hard for my dad, he fared a little better since he was going to a known job with army colleagues. My mom and us kids were moved to a new town with no sponsors to help us transition to new schools, or help mom get a job and make friends. It’s not dad’s fault and I never blamed either of my parents for this part of our lives, but I mention it because it is a huge piece of what made me the person I am today.
Since family also has a hand in what makes us the people we are, I’d like to also talk about extended family relationships. Because of the circumstance we were rarely around our extended families, vacations and weekend road trips were usually centered around going “home” to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This means we did not really get the opportunity to form strong bonds with our extended families which was another downside of military life. There are some family members we got to see pretty regularly so we were able to form and understand some familial bonds and thankfully our parents taught us that no matter if you see your family regular or not, they are your family and there is love to be found there. I lost touch with my extended family for a while but have managed over the past several years to reconnect with some of them; it has been glorious, and I have found that the lesson of familial love my parents taught us was true.
On to my point, from town to town, moving every few years, I attended 3 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and 3 high schools. As the social butterfly of our family and with some effort, I was able to make friends relatively quickly. At each new school, I went looking for things to get involved in such as cheerleading, softball and dance squad. I joined clubs like 4-H and Junior Achievement. I hung around with any kids who would accept the “new girl”. Sometimes this was good and sometimes not so much.
I don’t remember moving being painful until the move after 7th grade. From that point on every move we made was so painful, I was at the age when you are changing so much and everything is such a big deal and your emotions and hormones are all over the place, it’s an age that you think your life is over because of a move, you think you will be friends with the kids you are leaving forever, you think your boyfriend will sustain a long distance relationship and you don’t think you will be able to make new friends or that you will ever find another boyfriend as great as the one you leave behind. But, in the end I was able to adapt, overcome and move on. Unfortunately, because of constant moves, I did not learn to form relationships that I thought would last, I always had one foot out the friendship door. When you left – or I left, I learned to “flip the switch”, move on and let the relationship go. Needless to say, there are few people from growing up that I have maintained any connection with. As a matter of fact, outside a few extended family members, there is only one person from my youth that I RARELY still talk to or see.
As a daughter, I was mischievous, I was the one who gave mom and dad a run for their money, I was caught sneaking out at night (at a friends house!), I was the one who came home late, not much, but late for curfew, I was the one sneaking off doing things I had no business doing, I was the one under the house in the crawl space smoking, and of course, I was the one drinking with my friends and trying pot. I also take responsibility for giving my parents so much grief and doing guilt on them when we had to move, I cried and it felt like my world was over and I’m pretty sure I let them know it. I did not make it easy for them. I know now that was wrong, Dad did what he had to do to support his family, and like us, Mom had no choice in the matter; as an adult I understand that more.
As an adult daughter, I have taken all my experience and channeled it into forgiveness. Forgiveness for the challenges of growing up the way we did, for past mistakes of my parents with the understanding that they were doing the best they could, and forgiveness of myself for the things I did that made my parents lives harder. I am trying to be a good daughter, and although both my parents are far away from me geographically, I am trying to stay connected with them by phone calls and facetime calls. My kids were not around my parents growing up so I am trying to encourage them to form some kind of familial bond with my parents; I really want my grandkids to know their great grandparents, what a blessing to all parties that would be! So, bottom line, as a younger daughter, I was average, as an older daughter, I am trying to do better and on some occasions, I think I may get it right. I will continue putting forth the effort.
In closing, while going through this process, I realize that like me, my parents are perfectly imperfect but I think they did their best under challenging circumstances.
“Honor your father and your mother” is the first command with a promise: “That it may go well with you and you may remain a long time on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:2-3