Isn’t it great growing up with a perfect mom and dad who are there for you exactly when you need them, who never cramp your style, and who know exactly what to say and do all the time?
I have no idea! That’s because I had an eccentric, Italian opera singer mom who thought she was on stage half the time, singing out my name in high C to come home hours before all the other kids had to, and who made me wear jackets when it was 80 degrees outside so I wouldn’t catch a chill.
But if my mom paid too much attention to me sometimes, getting my sports fanatic father’s attention was often like pulling teeth. I had to either pose the problem in a sports-related scenario or make sure I squeezed the question in while engaged in a sporting event with him.
Now maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I know I used to complain about them. Yet now I realize just how special they are, and just how lucky I was to have them. Because for all of their perceived imperfections, one thing I was always sure of was their unconditional love for me.
A lifetime of interviewing people from every walk of life introduced me to a whole lot of people who didn’t have that from their parents at all. Or, sadly, they had a severely neglectful or abusive family.
As an adult I have also had the opportunity to see more clearly the faults of all my friends’ parents, none of whom had perfect parents either.
Nowadays I also realize what an important and crucial role my “imperfect” parents played in my success and in making me who I am because of the things I thought they did “wrong.” My mother probably is the reason I’m so artistically inclined, and why I can wow the crowds on the piano and hit a high C myself if I have to. And all that time talking sports with dad is why I can still hold my own with the guys after doing all that artsy stuff.
But in fact their eccentricities and supposed “faults” may be responsible for my success for another important reason.
Because in learning to eventually love and appreciate their imperfections, I learned the true value of loving and being loved in the model of Christ. Learning to love our parents in spite of their flaws is the ultimate and final stage of our maturity. If I knew they were teaching me that when I was a kid, maybe I could have enjoyed myself a little more with them, and appreciated all their eccentricities a little bit more.
But maybe it’s not too late for any of us as long as our parents are still around, to show them how much we appreciate them as an adult. And then maybe we will never be frustrated or embarrassed by them again.
OK, maybe that’s too much to ask. But at least we will be able to love them and respect them for all the love they gave us and appreciate how important all that imperfect love was and still is today.
Then we will truly understand why God thought enough of them to make them the subject of the Fifth Commandment – “Honor thy mother and thy father.”
He didn’t add, “only if they are perfect.” And I am not about to edit God!
Happy Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to all!