For the longest time, I never understood what my parents saw in each other. From my perspective growing up, they seemed like total opposites. Other than both being big personalities trapped in little bodies, they didn’t seem to have much in common. Sure, they both were attractive, smart, and caring. And they were both opinionated, stubborn, and hot tempered. But that’s where it stopped. My mom was responsible. My dad was carefree. She was logical. He was creative. She was conservative. He was adventurous. So it never surprised me that they ended up divorcing.
My mom is a tiny spitfire. At barely 5’1″ she can command the attention of any room and match wits with the most brilliant of minds, and has a heart of gold. She has always stood up for what she believes in, speaks her mind freely, never takes “no” for an answer, and has a work ethic like no other. She has the ability to take care of any situation or circumstance that life throws at her and handles it with grace. Because of her, I grew up standing my ground, going after what I want, and I am loyal to a fault. My inherited big mouth occasionally gets me into trouble and often gets me out of it. She often refers to me as “a better version of herself.” To which I can’t imagine a better compliment because she’s amazing.
My dad is a free-spirit. A few weeks ago he showed up at my house. Having sold his home this past October, he’s been traveling around the country in his rockstar-esque motor-home since. He was passing through town on the way to his next adventure and decided he was going to stay for a few days–very characteristic of him and evidence of the foundation of my wanderlust. Having traveled extensively, there’s still more that I have yet to see and desire to experience all the world has to offer.
Well, a few days turned into a few more and then one week turned into two. This was the longest amount of time I’ve spent with my dad in my adult life. So to see him now, through the eyes of an adult, was eye opening. I finally “got it.” I realized how close to the tree the apple really does fall. And my parents were not so unalike after all. And for better or worse, I am the exact combination of both.
One night during his stay, as we ate dinner, my dad matter of factly stated, “I’m moody. I like my sleep, and I like my privacy.” To which my boyfriend smirked and looked right at me. Knowing exactly what was going through his mind, I laughed and said, “So do I.” I had never said all those things in one sentence together, but his statement summed up a lot about who I am.
Seeing my dad during this time and observing his approach to things was like looking in a mirror. All this time I had thought I’d just got his love of travel, his artistic nature, bad temper, and love of antiques. But it became apparent that along with those traits, not only did I also inherit a double dose of stubbornness, independence, and determination but also moodiness and love of sleep and privacy. The things that annoy my boyfriend about me are the same things that my dad annoys my step-mom with. The desire to do what we want, when we want, our way. I understood how frustrating I can be to someone who isn’t used to that head-strong energy. It made me laugh at myself for how ridiculous I can be at times about certain things.
When you’re a kid, you grow up idolizing your parents. For a certain amount of time, they’re your favorite people. They teach you, love you, and provide the foundation of who you will be. Whether they’re in our lives full time, part time, or absent completely, who they are as people directly affect who we become. My parents divorced when I was three, yet they were both actively involved in my life. I’m very fortunate to have had that. They probably ended up being better parents living separately from each other then they would have been had they stayed together. And I’m very fortunate to still have them both close in my life. The two weeks with my dad allowed me to not only realize things about myself but I also finally understand why my parents loved each other. They really understood each other. So much of who they are at their cores are the same. And so it’s no wonder I ended up the way I am with my particular strengths and weakness. I really didn’t have any other option.
Do you find yourself sharing traits with your parents?
Also by Danielle: Aging Gracefully in Your Thirties
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Photo: Jay Ottoson via Unsplash