Friday, November 19, 2010

Parental Units

Since I was 6 yo, I've referred to my dad & stepmom as "my parents". It didn't occur to me that I confused people when I talked about them that way. I know now, of course, that the usual first impression is that parents = mom & dad. Well, that wasn't the case in my house... in the technical sense of the word, anyway.

My mother & father split when I had just turned 6, and my father was given custody. Dad had steady income, a stable household, and was emotionally better able to take care of five children. When my future stepmom moved in with her own baby girl, my mother had 90% removed herself from our lives, and I started referring to my stepmom as "mommy".

For you to understand a little more about me, you have to understand how I was raised. My stepmom was the primary caregiver & female role-model in my life. I was raised in a two-parent household (there were actually three different homes before I moved out); a stable, secure, loving home where we had chores, and rules, and friends felt comfortable. A home where I was taught how to change my own oil, clean a toilet, and cook a meal.

Spending time with my mother was so infrequent that it was more like a mini vacation -- dinners at nice restaurants, movies in the theater, trips to the mall for clothes, etc... My parents were the ones who came to my school events, conferences, practices, recitals, and games. My parents were the ones who helped with homework, and taught me how to care for myself & others. I preferred my "real life" to any time spent with my mother, and always looked forward to going back home.

When my mama was diagnosed with rectal cancer a couple years ago, I broke down crying. Obviously she's been the only woman in my life who's always been there for me, and her life was threatened... I was scared. Two summers ago, after her first round of treatment, and after she'd had some time to recover (and other family had come & gone for a visit), Ace and I went out there for five days. I had to see for myself that she was going to live; that I wasn't going to lose my mama any time soon.

I firmly believe that without her, my dad would not last long. I think with her diagnosis came that realization for dad, too, and he started to reevaluate. He put the campground on the market, and decided it was time to slow down. The campground hasn't sold yet, but part of his rental business did. They also started planning a trip out west.

Earlier this month, they flew from South Dakota to the tri-cities to visit T, D, Bug, & Firefly for a few days. Then, I got them for three & a half days. They went from here to northern California for a visit with DW, JH, and JH's fam (&, I think, got to meet DW's bf, J), then returned home. Over Xmas, they'll be visiting my 97 1/2 yo grandmother in Texas.

I've lived in this house almost 11 years, and they've never been here. The last time they were in my area was when MG & I were married (August of 1998); they were in southern Oregon in 2007 for T & D's wedding, too... That's a long time to be away from a growing area. Part of their visit included a little tour; a few things were still the same, but most had changed. Two that stood out for them -- the fairgrounds had a lot less trees, AND our old house had been remodeled, half the lot was sold & built on, and it's now for sale!

But, this trip was probably the most relaxed I've seen them in a long time. Dad took full advantage of my 60" flat-screen (& mildly irritating me with his non-stop FOXNEWS - haha), and mama was perfectly happy chatting, shopping, running errands, cooking with Princess, and just being part of our everyday lives for a few days.

Comments of note: "I love watching this." "Watching what?" "Just you guys... the way you are... it's nice." Then, later, "You guys are raising a pretty cool kid; and she's smart too! We all know what side of the family that comes from, huh?" Princess also noticed just how much I'm like my dad... his little sayings, some of his mannerisms, and some personality quirks. What I noticed is that if you flip the parentage, her upbringing is almost an exact replica of mine... and that's a good thing.

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