A mental health professional might have predicted the adults my parents would become.
My dad was out of control: An intelligent, attractive, spendthrift, and compulsive dreamer. He shot himself in the foot over and over till he no longer had a leg to stand on. He neglected his children for the sake of his work. He neglected his spouse for adventures with women he knew barely, if at all.
My mom grew up to live the life of a charming control freak. A lovely, personable, competent, hardworking, frightened, realist. At a time when many women in her social set stayed at home, my mom worked to pay the mortgage and car payments.
She wanted more time with her children, but she was busy ensuring our physical well-being. I don’t have a clue what kind of income my parents had. I’m pretty clear my father spent everything both of them made—and then some.
After 23 years together, my parents divorced. Some people marry the “same person” again and again. Not my parents. The second time around, they married people who couldn’t have been more different. When I was 19, my mother married an older man and built a lasting, respectful marriage. My father remarried while the ink was still wet on the divorce decree, his new bride already pregnant.
My parents were ordinary folk: broken, needy, imperfect…a hundred percent human. Could they have tried harder? I have no idea. They gave it their best shot. My sister turned out well. In my case, the jury is still out.
I can’t find the bad guys in my family. The inept, unprepared, foolish, shattered guys, yes—in abundance. That’s what I am. I suspect it’s what you are, too, but what do I know?
from Raising Adults by Jim Hancock