I’d Like to Thank the Academy, and My Mom & Dad

“Modern Family” fans: remember when Eric Stonestreet, aka Cameron, won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor last year? In his acceptance speech he said, “I am the product of supportive parents… Thank you, Mom and Dad.” You don’t hear that every day, especially from someone who aspired to be a circus clown when he grew up.

Parents often get a bad rap. Augusten Burroughs, Drew Barrymore, Oprah Winfrey, and countless others would not have the careers they have today if they hadn’t had dysfunctional parents. One could *almost* be jealous... There’s this funny New Yorker cartoon that depicts a young woman writing to her parents from college: “Dear Mom and Dad: Thanks for the happy childhood. You've destroyed any chance I had of becoming a writer.”

Happily, that’s not the case for me. I mean the part about becoming a writer! My parents have always been supportive of just about anything I wanted to do. (Including cutting my hair into an asymmetrical, bleached bob in the ’80s. What’s THAT about?!)

My mom saves all my articles and constantly sends me essays she thinks I might like. Actual paper clippings from the NYT and stuff! And they say print journalism’s dead… My dad encouraged me to keep going with my blog when my spirits were flagging after 5 years and no semblance of Dooce-like fame and fortune. (Scoff all you want. Name me a blogger who doesn’t have delusions of grandeur… or at least page views in the triple digits.) For Christmas and birthdays, they even help send me to conferences. Because that’s TOTALLY equivalent to the flannel nightgown and sweatshirt I got them from TJ Maxx. ;)

But listen: it wasn’t all a big love-fest growing up. We’re a normal family. As I’ve said, my parents NEVER tire of talking about how horrible my teenage years were. I would apologize, but in my defense my dad DID wear Birkenstocks with socks and my mom made horrible bean soups that she would force us to eat. (Take THAT, Augusten Burroughs!) And did I ever tell you about the time my mom sent me to swimming lessons topless and my dad forgot to pick me up at gymnastics?

Wait, wait. I’ve gotten off track. What I MEANT to say was, my parents are awesome. I have several friends who are jealous that I have such fun, interesting parents who like to take us out for expensive dinners when they’re in town. I’ve learned to appreciate them more the older I get and, of course, since I’ve become a parent myself. I guess that’s the best a mom or dad can hope for, right?

I read an interesting article in Reader’s Digest by Clayton M. Christensen recently, called “The Bottom Line on Happiness,” in which he discusses the importance of prioritizing family over career:

“Our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. You ship a product, finish a design, close a sale... In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationships with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Kids misbehave every day. It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can say, ‘I raised a good son or daughter.’”

Or, I would add, for that son or daughter to say, “I was raised by good parents.” So thanks, Mom and Dad! I am what I am today because of you. Bet you’d be a little more impressed if this was an Emmy acceptance speech, huh?


Anonymous said...

love love love this post!!! I sent it to my mom :) You are a great writer and I love reading your point of view. Thanks for blogging!

Lisa said...

As I get older, and have kids of my own, and realize just how tough it is to be a grown up, I find my perspective has changed on my parents. When I was very young, I thought they were infallible. When I was a teen, I thought they did everything wrong. Now, I am lucky enough to be able to appreciate what they did right, and forgive what they did wrong, and maybe even learn from it. To me, that is the true benefit of being raised by good, albeit imperfect, people.

Loukia said...

Aww, just lovely. It is so important to have a good relationship with your parents. My family is the most important thing to me, and I had a great childhood. I see my parents almost daily, still, and talk on the phone with my mom a dozen times a day!I hope my kids have nothing but happy memories of their childhood, too.

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