I believe in parents. My parents shaped who I am today. Although they ran a traditional home – dad at work, mom with the kids, I learned work ethics from both of them and nurturing from both of them.
My mother was a very bright woman, who in a different time might have become a doctor instead of a nurse. When she became pregnant with my older brother, she resigned from the Navy and quit working as a nurse to devote her time to her children. She used to tell me that she never viewed raising kids as a waste of her education – feminist talk for why women should keep working outside the home after having children. It made me feel so important as a kid to know that my mother did not view raising children as a waste of her time. My mother was a strong woman who never hesitated to give her educated opinion about things. She made her six kids eat a salad every night, get our homework done and be nice to each other. She viewed things emotionally but with a rational behind the emotion.
My father went to work every day without complaint, in fact, with enthusiasm. He taught me by example the power of doing something you love for your living. He imbued all his children with a never ending curiosity about how the world works. On weekends my dad would take us to science museums, the tide pools, the library and anywhere else he thought we could learn something interesting. He was also a soccer coach and a Boy Scout leader. My dad taught us to finish what we started – a big help to me in finishing my PhD. He taught us how to not take ourselves too seriously. He views things scientifically and rationally with emotion lurking in the background.
Most importantly, I watched my parents’ marriage survive the death of my brother at the age of 12. They had made a commitment to the marriage, to each other and to their children that rose above their deep and abiding sorrow. This example has helped me keep my marriage strong in dealing with life ups and downs. When my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, my husband and I knew that we were a team. That we would not blame each other. That we would listen to professionals and then make our own decisions. We were in charge of our family. My mom threw herself whole heartedly into educating herself and others about this disorder. My father told me the percentages of occurrence, possible causes and treatments. Eventually he volunteered at TS camp and learned what Tourette’s is really about.
It was difficult to lose my mother, I still miss her nine years later. But along with my dad, she taught me how to be a strong woman and a good parent. I would rather be a good parent than anything else. Children need good parents.