Today is my Mum’s birthday. She is now in her mid 50’s but she doesn’t look a day over 40. She has always been very good at dealing with life, and has always had a smile on her face. When I was growing up, she always managed to read about one book a week, while keeping the house clean and tidy, looking after my sister and I and working a part time job so that we could go on family vacations and do all the little extras in life. My dad always had a steady job, but with inflation, rising costs, and the ever increasing mountain of bills that comes with having children, bills were always a bit tight.
I get on well with my parents, but like any family, we have our differences. In fact, I’m somewhat of a black swan. My viewpoints differ greatly from that of my family, and my lifestyle is somewhat more extravagant, due to my ever consistent urge to find out more about the world around me and travel to every place possible. My mother and father did however give me a solid upbringing and life was always well structured. I thank my parents for the life that they gave me growing up. I always had room to grow and they gave me air to breathe. They let me go ride my mountain bike 4 miles into town when I turned 13, and they let me fly out to visit my girlfriend in the US, 4000 miles away when I had just turned 17. On riding my bike into town so that I could visit my friends and go dirt jumping, they told me that the only conditions were that I behaved myself, I was as careful as possible and that I returned before dark. I must admit a couple of times it was dusk by the time I got home and my dad did scold me for that. But, one of the most wonderful things my dad ever said to me was when I was only about 7 or 8 years old. I was asking about what I should be when I grew up. I asked about different trades and jobs that I had heard of, what they involved, how much they made. And then I asked what he and my mum wanted me to be. My dad said “son, you can be whatever you want to be. I want you to do whatever it is you want in life. So long as it makes you happy. I don’t care if you become a doctor or a street cleaner, so long as you’re happy in life, that’s all that matters to me.” Those words have defined my life. I know that he could not perceive where I would end up in life, or that I would move to another country to marry the girl of my dreams. How can anyone ever tell exactly what their kids will end up doing in life?
My parents have always been very supportive, but they’ve never just given me money to do whatever I wanted. My mountain bike dirt jumping had progressed from the age of 13 to 15, and I had already broken two bikes. It was time for me to upgrade and get some stronger parts to build myself a worthy trail bike. I asked my dad how I could afford it, and he told me to get myself a part time job. And so I did. I worked a paper route every morning for the next year, and eventually I had a great bike that I had put together myself. I still ride that bike today.
I know that not everyone has great parents, and I know the tendency to rebel against them. I consider myself very lucky to have parents that were so supportive and let me be myself. I’ve known a lot of parents to be very demanding of their children. They insist that their kids do well in school, or that they take out the trash. While chores are understandable, especially in a busy household, and especially since it enforces responsibility in the child. I do wonder at the supposed wisdom of pressuring your child into ‘doing well’ in school. I think it is more important that you show your child what the world is really like, and what hard work is, and show them what an education about the world around you can do to enhance your life. Having watched shows such as ‘the Indy Chronicles’ I can honestly say that I have learned more from reading books and the act of doing or constructing something, than sitting in class listening to a teacher or writing out some essay.
Even if your parents do bare down on you, always honor them. Their intentions are always good, even if they are misplaced. When you leave home you can do whatever you like, but always remember the best parts of what your parents taught you. You can always discard the parts that you don’t like. I feel that so many people get caught up on the negatives in life, they forget to look at the positives. Always take the positives with you, and leave the negatives behind. The future is bright if your outlook is, and your past need never drag you down.
Honor your parents with the respect they deserve, and always bite your lip when they test your patience. Remember that they were very patient with you when you were born!
Oh, and happy birthday Mum!