My parents believe raising my kids is a group effort. We are a team! My wife and I have been under the impression that raising our children is our job, our opportunity to be the parents and make decisions as a couple. Not so much! Every once in a while I am reminded that my life has never really been ‘my own’. Although my parents strive for My American Dream, that goal has simply continued twenty years past high school and well into my middle age. In many ways, I appreciate their Olympic parenting. It is supportive and very loving. It’s the more intrusive ways they continue to ‘parent’ that are sometimes challenging, though still funny. So let me offer some recent events.
Over a year ago, I joined my spouse in healthier living by exercising, eating a bit healthier, and losing a little over thirty pounds. Although I didn’t get a lot of pressure, I knew eating steak fries with a side of blue cheese dressing a few times a week was not a healthy way to live. My goal was simply to walk a mile on the treadmill every day and find ways to move my body more during the day. I eventually started to exercise three to five days a week and overall I feel physically better. So…a positive change, right? Well, after losing about ten pounds, my mother expressed her concern. I was clearly starving myself, exercising and eating too little. I have a superhuman ability to block out the noise of parental distress, so I managed to block this out as well.
When our kids started to climb, a talent they both continue to develop, my father nearly had a heart attack. “Oh my GOD Tacha…watch out!”, my father would shout. Or, he would make a sound effect that was similar to a goal scored during soccer. Both kids actually found his shouting pretty funny and would watch for these reactions, as if Gran’pa was playing a game. Similarly, a tumble while my kids were learning to walk resulted in frequent lectures about all the ways they could and would hurt themselves if we didn’t…(fill in the blank). It’s actually pretty funny. Apparently I have a similar sense of humor as my kids. So, I celebrate the love they have for me and my family, while separating it from the anxiety-fueled lectures that accompany their concern.
A few weeks ago I experienced a bit of frustration. After a full week of being sick, I was left speechless by a double-dose of united parenting.
“Tacha…you don’t look good!!” my mother touched my shirt and looks behind me as if there is something on my back. “You’re too skinny…I think there is something wrong with your blood.”
“Mom, I had food poisoning…my blood is fine. I haven’t eaten in four days.” I walk into her kitchen hoping there was something bland to eat. If I get a lecture, I should get food…right? And, I refuse to be ashamed that I’m looking for a little bit of comfort. Eleven hours of non-stop vomiting should lead to some acknowledgement!
“Oh…if I knew you were coming I would have made more rice.”, she proceeds to show me dishes of salmon, beans, and beets. Is there a hidden camera somewhere? I try not to gag as my stomach drops at the heavy onion-y smells. As she opens the fridge drawer she points out some expired yogurt. “You should make sure you throw food away so you don’t get sick.”
She pauses and looks at me with a blank look,”Ummmm….like that yogurt.” Seriously….I can’t make this stuff up!
“Listen, I think you need to go to the doctor.”, she looks at me shaking her head. She proceeds to show me all of the food she’s made for dinner, nothing that I can eat though. “I know you get upset when I say it, but you are too skinny.”
Later that week, while spending the afternoon with my mother, I receive a text from my father.
I was so scared for you. I was up all night worried that you were sick. I could not sleep.
Me: No worries. I am feeling much better.
Then I decided to call, how sweet is that text, “Hey…don’t worry about me. I’m much better.”
“Tacha…I think you’re too skinny. Do you think there is something wrong with you?” no hesitation…right into it.
“Dad…I had food poisoning. I’m better… I’m not too skinny!” I try to keep my voice down.
“I think there is something wrong with your blood…” he continues. Mom starts nodding her head and I recognize the double-dose lecture.
In case you’re wondering, I am actually high-normal on the height/weight chart. After meeting with a personal training, she was a little surprised I was not interested in weight loss. I try to offer these examples to my parents, but I am resigned. I am their child and they will continue to parent-lecture-support-love me (and my family) in whatever way they choose. Parenting has no expiration date!