My parents live in Arizona, and my dad was able to visit us for a few days this week. We spent our time eating ice cream, watching the kids play at the park, going to the zoo and the movies, watching the kids splash around in the pool, playing the Wii, and talking.
My mom has been sending the kids packages lately like she often does. She sends fun books, cute little gifts she knows the kids will like, and funny cards and poems she makes and writes herself. She is always making us laugh.
I tell you, I love my parents.
I've been thinking about my parents and how parent/child relationships change as we grow older. I had a happy childhood, although my parents' relationship wasn't the greatest as I was growing up. I knew my parents loved me, and I loved them. But don't you think when you are a kid, you look at life through such self-centered lenses? I know I did.
Then as I hit the adolescent years, I think I still didn't really appreciate them. My mom and I had a great relationship especially, but still I know my life was so centered around myself, my hobbies and goals, I just didn't see them for who they really were. Just who they were as they related to me, really.
Then I started having kids, and finally I was able to start to get it. I was able to appreciate what my parents did for me. The incredible love and self-sacrifice parents have for their kids. Suddenly I looked at my parents with new eyes. I began to appreciate them. Truly heart-felt appreciation for everything--the late nights, the boo boo kisses, the worry over sicknesses, the last minute homework help, the driving us places and allowing us to learn and discover who we were. I started to really and truly love my parents.
And now I've lived far away from them for a long time, and I love them in a new way. I really miss them. My parents are getting older, and I cherish them. I love the little things about them. I love their quirks and their habits. I love the great things about them and even the things that aren't as great. I love every minute I spend with them on the phone. I love every second that I can spend with them. I have learned to love my parents not for what they can do for me, or even what they did for me throughout my life, but unconditionally, for who they are.
Probably the sweetest gift God has given us is the gift of family. Our first family--the one we share with our parents and siblings, and then our second--the one we share with our spouse and our children. Both are like pure gold to me. I know that not everyone was blessed with a wonderful family, and truth be told, mine was not perfect. But I did not need perfect parents.
I am so thankful for the ones I have.