The Gift of Family… and thoughts on Parenthood.

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If you are my FB friend, then you surely know how much I love the show Parenthood. There is something about it that speaks to my soul. The intangible gifts that come from having a real family are difficult to explain or illustrate, and I feel that this show manages to paint a picture of real people (Yes, I know they are not real.) whose devotion to family trumps everything else.

I have a wonderfully complicated family, full of love and laughter. We have overcome hardships, and continue to make it through this world together. This is not going to be a description of my family though. This is not the forum for that. Besides, this would end up being very long, and I lack adequate talent to represent my quirky, fantastic, fabulous, and awesome family. (See? I even have to resort to the word awesome.)

I want to talk about the gifts that one derives from a supportive family.

Unconditional love is one of the most valuable commodities for human growth and personal satisfaction. Seriously. People need the assurances that no matter what, they are going to be loved. This security is what allows us to branch out and take risks. Toddlers experience this with coming to find their caretaker every little bit while they are exploring. They are seeking the foundation. The rock that they can count on. As the child grows, they push limits to test the stability of that relationship. They need to see that despite their worst behavior, they are still going to be loved.

I firmly believe that we often use our family as a safe place to let our internal little monsters out to play. We rebel, argue, talk back, and in general leave a trail of worry with every step we take in adolescence and young adulthood. (I realize that there may be lots of “good kids” out there, but this is my blog, therefore my experience.) Now, if our family has done their job, we have a security blanket. No mistake is too large for our family to turn their backs on us. The best part? Knowing that we can come home after all the chips have been cashed in.

So, eventually we grow up. (Or at least we manage to get some grown up responsibilities.) For me, it was having a baby. I was 18 and pregnant. I am so lucky that my family came together, and supported me through that process. The children who are born to mother’s like me, women who are woefully unprepared for motherhood, end up with something even better; a whole village of family who pitches in and helps raise them. One of the biggest surprises that came with having a baby, is that I no longer knew everything. Quite the contrary. I knew nothing. (Becoming a mother is a humbling endeavor. Scary and wonderful all at the same time.)

Life continues to throw curve balls, and I continue to dodge and weave my way through them. Sometimes, they hit me squarely in the chest, and knock the wind out of me. My accomplishments have only been possible with the support of my family. This is the one truth that I know without a doubt. I am confident that no matter what path I choose in life, as long as I am happy, my family will stand behind me and cheer me on. (Remember, I like to be cheered for.)

Watching the series finale of Parenthood last night, I was struck by how much Zeke’s encouragement meant to his children. They all have a different relationship with their parents, and the writers managed to stay consistent with these roles. Crosby is the wayward son that needed to be told that he could run a business without his big brother, while Adam (the big brother and savior) needed to be told that he was not responsible for his brother. Sarah wanted her dad to give her away to the man who would be the most important man in her life. Julia’s relationship with her dad was not addressed as much, but her devotion to her family is very much her father’s legacy.

What struck me, left me in a sobbing heap of kleenex, was the realization that all of our families want happiness for their kids. Self-actualization. Be who you were born to be.

We all knew Zeke was going to die. It was only the theme of the four last episodes. I was dreading it. I was afraid that it would be devastating. The creators of this show gave us a gift though. The montage at the end managed to show how the family moved on, and found happiness, even without their patriarch. After all, it is all he really wanted.

The song says it all. Mr. Bob Dylan managed to wrap it all up with a neat bow and catchy chorus.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

This song articulates my wishes for my son far better than I ever could. I want him to keep a sense of wonder, and to still enjoy a surprise. I want him to know that whatever path he chooses, I will be his foundation, and be waiting for his return home to check in. I can’t wait to read the story he writes for his life. I bet it is going to be quite the adventure.

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