“Parenting is the toughest job on earth as you are responsible for the physical, emotional, and mental development of another human being.”
When I was thirteen I was with my parents and a couple of children my mom was watching for the day; we were driving up a winding canyon when, on a curve with no shoulder, our car died. My dad thought fast, jumped out of the vehicle and began to try and use the motion we had left in the car to push it up a small incline to the safety of the side of the road.
The kids began to cry in the backseat and as my mom and I turned to comfort them, we saw a sight that made our hearts drop; there were two semi trucks, side by side, in both of the lanes coming towards us on the curve. I could hear the trucks trying to brake and I know my dad saw them too because I could see him put all his strength into one final push.
He yelled out and at the time I believed it was because he was being hit by a truck but that wasn’t the case. In my fear I had closed my eyes and as I opened them I realized that the last push had worked and we had made it to the side of the road just as the trucks barreled past. My dad hadn’t yelled out because he had been hit, he had yelled out because in trying to save us all he had pulled his hamstring as he pushed the car out of the way.
You might be asking yourself why I am choosing to start with this story. I do so because when you commented, after reading my latest post about my being sexually abused as a child, about my parents and how they should have protected me from my abuse, I didn’t feel angry or hurt; I only thought of this story and all the hundreds of other times in my life where my parents had protected and loved me.
I’m not mad at you; I realized what was speaking in your comment was your own pain, your own feelings of not being protected in your past, possibly by your own parents.
Now of course, that’s a guess, but if that is the case, my heart hurts with your heart. I am sad with you and for you.
I realized, because you don’t know me, I wanted to tell you about all those times my parents had protected me.
My parents taught me to cross the road by looking both ways.
My father ran behind my bicycle when I was learning to ride until I was able to keep upright. When I fell down, he lifted me up and comforted me, each and every time.
My mother would leave a nightlight on in the hallway when I slept so that I wouldn’t be scared.
My parents made us children sit in front of a plate of vegetables until we ate them all because they knew vegtables were good for us.
My parents believed in talking to their kids about the hard stuff – my siblings and I heard them talk to us about stranger danger, drinking, drugs, sex, and what to do if we were with friends and didn’t feel comfortable about what was happening.
My parents knew the names of their children’s friends and the friend’s parents.
My parent’s didn’t believe in sleepovers; they knew that things could happen and they felt better when their children were under their own roof.
As my siblings and I entered teenage years, my parents waited up for us to come home any time that we went out.
My parents taught us not to run with scissors or swim in the river alone, and many other examples that I won’t share here.
Were my parent’s perfect?
No. Of course not, they would be the first to admit it. No parent is perfect.
What happened to me was no one’s fault but the people who chose to sexually abuse me.
Let me say that again: What happened to me was the fault of only two people; the two women who chose to sexually abuse me. It was not my fault, nor was it my parents.
I believe so often the parents are as much a victim of the abuse their child suffers as the child is. I can only imagine the pain it would cause to know your child has been hurt in this way. Unless the parent was the abuser or gave their child up to be abused, they are not at fault, they are not to blame. However, just like children who have been sexually abused, parents often blame themselves.
They shouldn’t, just as the abused child shouldn’t.
I truly believe that people do the best they can given their current knowledge and current circumstance. That is the problem with hindsight; it’s always 20/20. It seeks to judge one’s past with present knowledge and in doing so it leaves one living in “should haves” and “could haves”.
None of that helps. None of that can take away what has been done. Living in what could have or should have been done only drains one of the energy they desperately need to heal, to grieve the losses suffered, and seek to move forward.
Would my parents give anything to go back in time and change what has been done?
Would my parents switch places with me, would they suffer in my stead?
A million times, yes, they would.
One can be the best parent who ever lived, take every precaution that there is to take, and things will still happen. That is life. Sadly, the difficulties will still come, one’s child will experience pain at some point in their life. What will make that child feel even worse is if the parent blames themselves when it isn’t justified.
So, my new friend, I thank you for your comment. I thank you for how it let me think about my past and see all the ways I was loved, all the ways my parents were warriors for me, all the ways they protected me.
And still do.