Yesterday was National Parent’s Day and I totally spaced it. But it’s okay because the whole world (or nation I guess) forgot too. That’s what happens when Snapchat filters are my source on what random holiday we’re supposed to be celebrating!
But it’s never too late to do something nice, right? And I have actually been waiting for an excuse to talk about my parents because…listen…not to brag…but my parents are the shiz.
Case in point:
I feel pretty lucky to have my parents. Sometimes I look at my family, my siblings, and I wonder how we all got this way. Vivacious. Independent. Driven. Quirky. Funny. Kind. And each of us oh so different from the other. It’s no secret that I think my family is the best. I love how big and loud we are, how every family gathering turns into some annoying dance party or game night or hyperactive sprint down memory lane. We talk about our childhood cage fighting. The accents we picked up. All the different escapades and troubles we got into. There are inside jokes that stick: Travis filming over all our family videos with his shaky cam hands. Melissa yelling “QUEEN AMADALA” as she pans across her room. Laura mugging for the camera, constantly and with that beauty queen charm that would help her win her pageant.
And I know I’m getting off topic because this is, after all, a post about my parents.
But I think that’s what I love most about my parents: they let their kids be themselves. They built this zany little safe space for us to be annoying and loud and funny and obnoxious and to fill hot tubs with bubbles. We struggled and stumbled and grew into ourselves and I’m just grateful for the natural way they had at just letting us be.
Haters will say I must want something, writing this ode. But nah! To be honest I was just looking through old family photos thinking how lucky I was to have a maybe-not-normal but still-semi-functioning family.
My mom is a dreamer. My dad is a jokester. There’s mischief and wonder laced throughout all my childhood memories. They’ve been married for 34 years and they have six amazing kids, four totally cool in-laws, and two adorable grandbabies to show for it. Not to mention the dogs.
So. Many. Dogs.
And it’s all because my mom and my dad — one a California beach babe and the other a cross between a cowboy and those social misfits in trench coats that make you a little nervous — randomly met at church some thirty-five years ago.
Well, they didn’t meet at church.
My dad saw her walking down the hall and decided he had to get to know her. She thought he was cute too but they didn’t say hi. (Gotta play hard to get, you know?) Eventually he gave her a call and offered up a line that either makes or breaks a man: “You don’t know me but I’d like to get to know you better.”
Number one baller.
My mom didn’t know it was that cute boy on the phone, but she said yes (different times, people). They ran into each other jogging a couple days later and that’s when he was like “Hey, you excited for our date?” The way she tells it she was just happy to find out it was him. Until he showed up to their date in cowboy boots and she almost said nah.
AND WHAT KIND OF CUTE STORY IS THAT!
I grew up hearing that to varying degrees. And I think it speaks to the kind of people my parents are. My mom is beautiful, social, a dreamer who sees the best in people. My dad is quiet but confident, driven to seek out what he wants in life. They built an empire of love and humor and quirky af children who turned out fairly okay. We’re a hodgepodge of their features, most of us sharing my mom’s fine-colored hair and my dad’s toothy grin. We’re split on whether or not we look like them or each other but we can all see a bit of them in ourselves.
The creativity. The restless dreaming. The striving and the working and the doing. The jokes! There’s a love of outdoors from my dad that completely bypassed me. But I got his love of reading and that wheezy laugh. My mom’s sensitivity and tenderness (the reason for all the dogs probably) is something I strive for. And I’m grateful for the creative thirst, that dreamy confidence that found me doing and trying all sorts of things.
I remember walking home from school in the fifth grade. A boy had been taunting me the whole walk home as I huffed up the hill in the snow. He pushed me in a snowbank, rushing past with a laugh and I barely made it home before bursting into tears. But my mom just crawled into bed with me, warming me up under the covers and telling me how much she loved me. She didn’t even know what was bothering me. It didn’t matter. She just needed me to know she loved me.
And my dad.
He’s not a man of many words, but he’s got jokes! And his quiet strength has always been something I admire. He gives and he gives. Literally. He once gifted me with about 100 Twix candy bars just because I said they were my favorite. But that’s not my favorite memory.
My favorite memory is hearing my parents laughing with a couple siblings upstairs. I heard someone start to walk away and then a loud crash reverberated down the hall and my mom screamed “DAVE!” I ran upstairs to find my dad lying face down in the carpet, a rug burn all the way down his nose, still laughing as he explained he must have fainted because he couldn’t catch his breath from all the laughing.
The joke? Lake Titicaca. He just thought the name was hilarious. #boobsandpoop
So if you ever wondered how on earth I am the way that I am. There it is.
As Abraham Lincoln once maybe said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my [crazy, dedicated, loving, selfless, silly, wonderful parents].”