Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The Bottom Line
I have a weird little addiction to a kinda mediocre TV show called Second Chance. It airs (2 in a row) in the mornings, so I often take my coffee downstairs and go watch it.
The premise of the show is that the main character has made life choices that have resulted in lots of sadness and loss. The plots turn on the main character dying (in the first two minutes of the show) and this angel, Mr. Jones, hauling the dead person - kinda dead, actually - off to plead their case for this other guy, Judge Othniel or something, so they can get three days grace, go back to the point where they made the crappy choice and fix it. It's cheesy has hell.
Most of the stories revolve around a parent who's been a shit and has badly affected their children's lives as a result.
I don't think most people would describe me as the weepy type but I weep my head off every time I watch this show. If you know this program, you know how really not tight the acting is and how the storylines are designed to make one weep, so weep I do.
I come from one of those families where a parent (two in this case) made endless bad choices in respect to their kids. My dad died five years ago so he's done making bad choices but he left without us getting to a full resolution. My mom? Yeah, she's still here. That is a whole 'nother 2000 page book....
What it comes to is this: the point in that show that sets me off every time is when a parent finally realises how their choices have so badly affected their kids and they ante up with a full-on apology AND a complete change in behaviour; and when the kid says to a parent, "You are the best mom/dad ever there was." You cannot imagine how desperately I want to experience a parent that has not only full clarity on their life but is able, willing and ready to admit their mistakes, say sorry and CHANGE.
It makes me cry because we (my sibs and I) not only don' t have that, nor have we ever have never had it, we are 100% sure we will never, ever see the day when our live parent has any kind of clarity or even admits to any glimmer of clarity.
Her resistance to clarity is as if that clarity was paper and a fat black marker, with which she'd draw on the paper, and which drawing she would instantly deny even knowing about, regardless of still having pen in hand.
I've written tons and tons on my view of parenting but I have neglected this; there is absolutely nothing a parent can buy, do, acquire, steal for their child that will ever - infinity ever - compensate for that parent's refusal to be human and fallible. Such refusals are all the worse when that parent blames the child for everything that is ill in the world and tops that off with the admonisment that god is watching the child and the child will not only be sorry when the parent is dead but will be punished by said watchful god.
There is nothing that will ever heal the heart of a child that has been betrayed by a parent and there is absolutely nothing that can feed the soul and mind of a child, no matter the age of that child, who knows they are not loved by that parent because the parent is utterly, endlessly, completely self-obsessed.
We, my sibs and I, live hopefully, despite what we know is reality; we live with the desperate hope that someday our parent is going to have a flash of understanding. It won't happen but letting go of the remote hope that it might would mean the end for us. It's pretty much our personal "Faint Hope" clause; it is there to stave off the utter despair that is the alternative.
This is my brief advice: love your children with abandon; be fascinated by them; learn from them; love them and when you say you love them, pay it more than lip service. What you say and how you live MUST add up; otherwise, don't waste your breath. Better to admit to being cold, uncaring and disinterested in your children than to spend 40 some odd years making life for your children the hell of a thousand cuts.