I called my parents in a panic this week, as one does less than a week away from a wedding.
My mom compassionately, understandably talked me out of my panic and from halfway across the country was able to deliver exactly what I needed in that moment. She was almost offended that I hadn’t come to her earlier, because I mentioned this panic had been around for about a week, including the last time we talked when she explicitly asked “if I needed anything.”
Before I even went to my mom, I talked to a co-worker and a friend, who are both moms and they pretty much said, she’s your mom, she’ll do it.
They were right.
It got me thinking about the unrelenting and unconditional support parents give to their kids. I’ve seen it from my future in-laws time and time again over the past few years and on too many occasions to count, from my own parents of course.
My parents were never the rah-rah, big-speech, or motivational type. They gave me the support I needed through actions, like the time one of my high school assignments was in my pocket and went through the laundry and my dad stayed up until some ungodly hour trying to piece it together like a puzzle.
In university, without even reading the book (or sometimes reading it just because I had to) my mom would be at the ready to edit any essay, which inevitably I didn’t finish until midnight the night before it was due. She would never complain and call me at whatever time to talk through the edits she made. She was the same with school projects when I was younger, like the time on a Sunday night at 9 p.m. I realized I had a project that was due the next day and she did everything in her power to help me get it done on time.
They were always there. Picking me up and dusting me off if I needed it, coaching teams I was on, helping with homework or making me try something other than peanut butter sandwiches.
They were older, my dad was 40 when I was born so I didn’t always feel like I could go to them for advice on stuff. Problems in school, girls, and relationships — I always just kind of held it in or talked to friends about it. In my head, I knew they could help, but I just never felt like they were the place to turn and it’s nothing they did. I feel horrible even thinking about it. I don’t have a real good answer as to why that was the way I thought.
Despite that, I always knew they were there for me. As I said, they showed their love in other ways. They never missed a sporting event, they always got me there on time, stayed home when I was sick and supported me every step of the way when I said I was moving out west to pursue journalism. If we’re keeping score, they’re way ahead in the support department.
I’m sure they didn’t always agree with the decisions I’ve made but I’ve felt their unconditional support from Day 1.
There were never words of wisdom, but action. My dad would bend over backward to help somebody if they asked. He tutored many kids in our hometown in math, charging them $35 a session, even if that session took five hours. We’re done when we’re done, he’d say.
I learned to be a good person from my parents. I learned that when you commit to something, you have to show up. I learned to never be late, I learned to be kind, generous, and be humble. They never told me any of those things, I learned by osmosis. I unconsciously do almost all of those things, long after I’ve moved out of my parent’s home, simply because I think it’s the way a person should be.
You can’t put a price on those lessons either.
As I’ve aged, I tend to get into more arguments with them; lose my patience with them quicker than when I lived at home. (a lack of patience runs on my dad’s side of the family and I think some of that got passed on to me). I feel an instant sense of regret when it happens, yet my mom and dad always act like it didn’t happen or it wasn’t a big deal.
But I know they know.
I’ve made more of an effort over the past few years to make sure I tell them how much I love them. When you’re separated by a few provinces and only get to see each other a few times a year, it gets a lot harder to express that love through actions. My parents can’t come over and clean up a flooded basement or mow the lawn if I’ve gotten too busy to do it.
And yet, I know if I needed that, really needed it, I could just ask. They would be here at the drop of a hat. They’re retired and they have that luxury of course.
I think as we travel through life, or at least in my experience anyway, we lean on our parents for so much and maybe forget to tell them how much that means. I mean really tell them.
They’ve helped us become the person we are today, faults and all.
It’s easy to forget all those little moments over a lifetime when your parents have been there for you. They pass by so quickly, just a blip on the radar of life. We never appreciate them enough at the moment. Or at least I haven’t anyway.
I’m lucky my parents are still here and I still have the chance to tell them how much I love and appreciate the support they’ve given me throughout the years.
It comes unconditionally, without judgment (well, maybe some judgment after they know I’m safe and taken care of) and no matter what I say, I don’t think there are enough words to express how important that is; how much it means to me.
I used about 1,000 of them, and to all the kids out there, hug your parents tightly if you can, tell them you love them more than you think you should.
Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate and a Regional Editor for Black Press Media.