28 April 2014

A Month of Learning - When to Parent, and When to Let Go (Audio)

ITP #36: In this episode, Anush talks about the joys of parenting….from parenting your children, to taking care of an elderly parent, and then, learning how to step aside from the parenting (but still loving) when it comes to helping someone who is not your child.
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
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A Month of Learning - When to Parent, and When to Let Go

April has been a whirlwind.   I've had a lot on my plate, and a lot of wonderful things happening, and a some not so wonderful, but we have made it through, thank God.  It seems like just the other day we were looking forward to Easter approaching, and then it came and went in a flash.    I didn't really have one topic to write about, but there were so many lessons learned this month, that I thought I'd play catch-up with you and share some of what I learned.

First off, prior to April we had a massive yard sale at my mom's house as we prepared to clean out years of "stuff" that she had accumulated.   My mom is the ultimate collector of angels.  You know the Raphael angels?  You know the ones, right?,  the little chubby angels that are resting on their forearms? Well, she had those angels in every shape and form.  Woven into a lap blanket, needlepointed into throw pillows and tapestries, hung on the wall - framed, on the face of a clock.  From notebooks to checkbooks, figurines to frames, those angels have adorned her living room for a decade now.  Well, the time came where they had to go.  Especially because Mamajan has been living with us now, and there's just no room for such celestial madness at our house.  So we had a yard sale, and the angels were there, along with closets of clothing, boxes of frames,books, books, and more books, furniture, furnishings and all sorts of stuff that had accumulated over the 20 plus years that mom had lived in her house.

It was very, very difficult for her (and for us) to sort through all the stuff deciding what to sell, and what to give away, and what to gift to her children and grandchildren.  Saturday came with the yard sale advertised to start at 7:00 a.m.  We seriously had people there at 6:00 a.m.!  As people poured over years of mom's life, there was a sadness that she felt seeing her life dismantled in front of her eyes like that.  It was easy for us to sell things off, give things away even.  And seeing it all go, made me think about things in our lives.  What's really important?  Is it just stuff? I think so...unless there are memories attached to them.

The things that my siblings and I gravitated toward in all of this were not the ornate or expensive furnishings.  What each of us wanted most of all were the things that held memories...especially the memories of our father.  Like the old wall clock in the dining room hadn't worked in years.  When my mom said that it could go, my brother and I looked at each other.  That?  You want to get rid of that?  Dad brought that home.  From where we have no clue. We stuck the key in the clock, winding it, swinging the pendulum....which would stop after a few swings.  Clearly, it didn't work...but it brought back memories.  We poured over old family photos.  Black and white with the paper corners holding them in place in the black paper- paged photo album.  That's what we wanted.  Memories.  Peaks back into our childhoods, with old cars, mother-
daughter photos with matching hats and gloves, old pets that we had forgotten about since we were little. It's those very memories that make a home, well, homey.   We scooped up some of mom's framed photos of her kids, her grandkids, happy memories and family celebrations.  And we brought them to our home.  Setting them up on her bedroom dresser, it was like she was finally home - in our home, her new home - surrounded by her loved ones past and present.  Surrounded by beautiful memories.  Minus Raphael's angels, but still with the angels that smile back at her in the photos and memories.

And there's some wonderful news to share...about a new little angel. Come August, we will be having a grandbaby!  No, no, I didn't just find out.  We learned of my daughter Ani's pregnancy around Christmastime, back when the baby would have been the size of a sesame seed.  That's when Ani and Eric brought over a little wrapped gift with a tag that said, "This gift won't be here in time for Christmas, but we wanted you to know it's on its way!"  I opened the package and it was a Baby on Board car magnet.  Since then Ani has been updating me weekly on the size of the baby...from sesame seed to a grain of rice, to a blueberry, grape, raspberry and beyond until this week, at 21 weeks, our grandbaby is the size of an eggplant!  And then just last weekend, after she and Eric went to their ultrasound, they decided to have a "gender reveal party" for us grandparents and great-grandmas.  A party where we would find out whether we're having a granddaughter or grandson.  We gathered at their house for lunch -  all three sets of
grandparents and three great-grandmothers.  We had a nice time visiting with one another, choosing either pink or blue safety pins to wear depending on our predictions, making fingerprint balloons in either color for a print for the baby's room, and talking excitedly about the fact that our babies were having a baby.  Then at dessert time, Ani and Eric brought out this tall, 3 layer, cake they had baked with a giant question mark on top.  Time for the baby reveal!  And as they cut into it, the blue M&M's spilled out from the center letting us all know IT'S A BOY!  There were lots of hugs, and surprised smiles (since some of us were so sure it was a girl!)  We're so excited, thrilled, you name it...that's what we are.  After the reveal excitement, Ani, Eric's mom and sister and I got in the car and drove to the craft store for yarn and ideas.  Let the projects begin!!! I've started crocheting a blanket and bought a pattern to make some uber cool felt shoes for him.   It's really so exciting!  I know the two of them are going to make incredible parents.  And so far, I am loving the beginning of this new chapter of my life as this baby's "Medzig".

Holy Week came and went in a flash, didn't it?.  I really enjoyed Fr. Vazken's Road to Healing series, and we were listening in faithfully.  And then at the beginning of Holy Week, Mamajan (my mom) ended up in the
hospital. So my days were spent at work during the day, and then a drive across town to spend the evening with her in the hospital.  Thankfully, she is okay and after 4 days she was released and is back at home now, and Easter was extra special because of it.  And while I'm sitting here typing
, it occurs to me that the theme here could be parenting....parenting our children, watching our children grow to become parents, taking care of our elderly parents, and then learning to step back from parenting as well.

In my previous two blogs I shared with you about my friend Anita, a young adult with some very big addictions. as you know, I have been trying to help her with her sobriety, understanding of God, letting go of resentments past and present and working on her addictions. As the past couple of months has gone by, we've witnessed a positive transformation as she has gotten to experience life in our Christian home.  We started talking about the future for her.  What her interests would be, what kind of career would be a good fit.  And then it happened.  have  We embraced her and took her in as one of our own. And I think this was my downfall.  I took on the role of her parent, and clearly, this was not what she wanted.  Is it possible to love too much?  I think so.  It's not a bad thing, you know.  But it does leave you open to getting hurt.  And this is where I ended up.

As parents, it's natural to worry about our children.  We want to protect our kids from getting hurt, from making mistakes.  And since we're older, and we've "been there, done that," so to speak, we know when a path is going to lead in the wrong direction.  Those times have been many with Anita.  In my need to protect her from putting herself in situation that could be harmful to her sobriety, I ended up being more of a parent than she needed.

I saw mistakes waiting to happen when she had made plans to go away for a few days with a friend to a Cochella after event, and of course, my ultimate fear was that she would relapse into her addictions, and that led to us butting heads.  All I had to hear was the word "Cochella", which conjures up images the images that are plastered all over Facebook of the two-weekend concert event synonymous with the word "party."  She accused me of jumping to conclusions, making assumptions and the worst part of it all -  being "just like her mother" which was really a hurtful thing to say because she had shared with me time and time again, just how much she can't stand her mom. That comment, to me, was tremendously hurtful.   "I want to live my life!  Experience things!" she yelled at me one night.  I thought.."uh, haven't you already done that?  And look where it led."   No,no...I didn't say that, but that's what I heard in my head.  Be honest, you'd think that too! But what could I do?  She was under our care and guidance, and under our roof, but not our child.  Off she stormed, angry.  I prayed that God would show me a willingness to be accepting, as God is accepting of me, with all my flaws.  And I tried. And I prayed some more.  I prayed for guidance and patience.

And then last Saturday, with Easter communion the next day, I called her to apologize if I had hurt her.  I explained to her about communion, and that I needed to make amends before approaching the altar.  I explained why I had acted in the way I had...it was out of love and nothing more.  I also explained what I felt and why I had reacted the way I had.  To my apology though, all she could do was tell me what I could have said, what I should have said, how I should have phrased things, etc.  And that was it.

We have parted ways.  Not because I don't love her.  Not because I have given up on her.  No, I think, hope and pray that she will be okay and make something amazing of her life.  But I learned a valuable lesson and that is that you can't parent someone that doesn't want to be parented.  And you can love someone a lot, and want the best for them, but until they realize they are worthy of that love, they won't be able to understand it.  Right?

As we parted ways tonight, she came up and thanked me for taking her in and trying to guide her.  She said that she knows that I love her.  But she also said, "I think our personalities are just different, and we clash,  but it doesn't have anything to do with how much we love each other."  We hugged for a long time, told each other we loved one another, and I told her I'd continue to pray for her, and then she left.  That chapter of the story is now closed.  And now a new chapter in her life is going to begin.  I'm hoping and praying that she was able to learn a little bit during our short time together and that God blesses her with courage, strength and wisdom to move forward down the right path to a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.  And, I think I'll save my parenting for my own kids.  : )