I harbor a few resentments about my childhood.
Not about the material things. God knows, I had a fairly privileged life with opportunities that many people would kill for.
But I don't like the way I was parented. I don't like the way I am parented TO THIS VERY DAY.
Let us back up.
I was the quintessential "not-good-enough kid."
And yet I was the epitome of goody-two-shoes and nerdy bookworm.
A paradox? Only if you're not my parents. If I got an A-, why wasn't it an A? If I got an A, why wasn't it an A+? My achievements were awesome, in my opinion, but they never seemed to quite measure up to them.
And every time I disobeyed or did something they disapproved of, the consequence (among other things) was a lecture that dredged up a laundry list of every previous egregious act. I HATE that.
As an adult, I heard from other sources that my parents were ALWAYS bragging about me. But you couldn't prove it by what I heard at home.
Anyway, they operated as parents from a perspective of fear of disappointment and financial strings. As I grew into adulthood, everything was somehow tied to money. If I didn't toe the line, there were financial ramifications. If I strayed somehow, they would THREATEN to withhold dollars to keep in me in line. And at certain points in my life, the financial assistance was what kept me afloat. But the emotional strings attached ... oh my.
I'm not proud of this, I assure you, and I am trying not to sound like whiny brat here because, really, I wanted for nothing as a child -- except my parents' approval.
And yet ...
I did not go through my "rebellious" years until I was in my 20s and picked a mate who they disapproved of. I dug in my heels. Nasty words were spoken.
They were ultimately right, as I divorced him 14 years and three sons later. And they took me back into the fold.
Lather, rinse and repeat a couple years after that, when I again went admittedly wrong with my choices.
Five years and financial ruin proved them right once more. And again they took me back, though this time, I never have felt 100 percent about it -- and they don't miss many opportunities to remind me of my faults and transgressions.
They have told me point-blank that they believe me to be a lousy mother -- yes, I mean recently. They misinterpret my motives at every turn, assigning reasons to my actions that are nowhere near reality but fit a twisted view of the not-good-enough kid.
And yet, I really do know they love me. Otherwise, they would never have "taken me back" after the bad-marriage years when I was not always a nice daughter.
Today, I stand as the mother of grown and growing children.
Some of them are easy (sorta) and some, not so much.
And I take from my parents an important lesson.
When the Drama King spoke to me in a despicable manner 2 1/2 years ago and I threw him out of my house -- at 9 p.m. on Christmas night -- I burned with anger.
And as time passed, I forgave, eventually bringing my prodigal son back into the family.
As I had been taught.
Why do I bring this up today? Honestly, I don't know.
I do know that Father's Day is Sunday, and this will bring the requisite dinner with the parental units. And I will cringe and hope that cruel or uncomfortable words will not be sent my way this time.
But at the same time, I know from my many years of being a mom that most of the time, you're just winging it and doing the best you can.
So I remind myself that my own parents were -- and are -- doing the best they can.
I can wish they had known better, but I cannot expect any more from them than my children can expect from me.