Nurturing my nature

"My parents are awesome. They just drive me crazy, you know?"- co-worker, leaving to clean his apartment before his parents showed up to visit

There are many aspects, mostly good, to living so close to ones immediate family. For example, today started with a text message from my brother requesting caulk while we were out and led to a long discussion about shower curtain designs followed by my taking a perfectly good shower curtain and cutting it up to turn it into a new shower curtain design. It would (maybe) make more sense if you were there. Really it would only make sense if you were part or our family's sub-culture.

There was an interesting segment on Momversation about if your child's personality comes from Nature or Nuture (warning: video auto plays). I've wondered about that a lot myself these days, particularly as I've watched Ian develop his own little beginnings of a personality. It's also come to light as I've developed an adult friendship with my cousin. We had pretty different childhoods from pretty opposite parents in many ways (other than the important ones of both coming from homes where we were loved and cared for). Yet there are lots of things she and I share now as adults that she keeps chalking up to "genetics". She's an only child and I have two siblings. She was raised Catholic and we never went to any churches in our family. She grew up in a manicured neighborhood of Virginia Beach while we never left our little rough around the edges area of Ocean View. My father is stubborn to a fault and her mother seems to carry the lion's share of stubbornness in their family. And yet here we are decades later finding out that we're really not so different after all.

For most of my life, I've felt like I was a Daddy's girl. Mom always seemed to be the willow in our family, accommodating the strong winds of my father's opinions. And as a child, I remember clinging to those strong opinions as if they were gospel. They would guide me through my life and help me make decisions.

But now, I feel more in the middle. Part of that has been Daddy's depression making him more irrational and harder to relate to. There is just so much that he finds negative, it can be hard to really rally behind all those opinions. It's exhausting.

Mom, however, is hopeful in spite of everything. I can't remember who, but someone told her incredulously once that she was so happy and she didn't have anything! She can find the sunbeam in any cloudy day, and also have the tenacity to weather the storms until that sunbeam makes an appearance. My father has said on many occasions that if she had his physical strength, she'd be dangerous because she can accomplish so much just from sheer will.

I see myself as a blend of the two of them, both nature and nurture. I have Dad's fair skin and freckles but I have Mom's smile. I yell like my father and I hum just like my mother. My feet and hands are slender like my mother's and the rest of me is just a bit too tall like my father.

I have spent inordinate amounts of time tending to our own elderly pets, after watching the years my father cared for his dying cat, feeding him with a syringe and bathing him and tending to his grave. When Loki had the liver cancer and was sent home to die, I called my father in tears because he was the only one I trusted to tell me it was the right time to take my cat back to the vet and be put to sleep. I still worry, just like Dad would, about the woman that I didn't stop to help off the highway because I'd already past her and would have had to cross three lanes of traffic. I believe firmly that cats have no business being on kitchen counters or other eating surfaces. I do all these things because I'm Daddy's girl.

I send little gifts to friends for no good reason because my mother would come home with something for a neighbor or friend with no reason other than it was perfect for them. I lie in bed with Ian as he's falling asleep, rubbing his back to the point where I feel like I'm about to fade away until he stirs and it rallies me to rub his back some more. I do this now because I remember being the kid in my mother's bed as she rubbed my back and when she started to fall asleep I would wiggle just enough to keep her going. I get anxious whenever Rich starts to look for something in my stuff, and parrot my mother's pleas of "please don't mess in my goodies!" And I take home a shower curtain from my brother's house to sew it into a new curtain for the window in his bathroom. I do all these things because I'm Mom's daughter.

My parents are awesome and I can only hope Ian will think the same of Rich and I, even if we drive him crazy.