My parents came to visit, and now they're gone. I had a lot of fears, leading up to their visit, a lot of expectations, many of them not so good. I had a huge, looming, overwhelming anxiety over a specific conversation I've been putting off until I could see them in person, and now... I kinda miss them. The whole thing went a lot better than I expected.
There were no criticisms of our house, of our belongings. There were some unflattering personal comments made, here and there, but I'll let them slide. They gave me an iPad, which was wholly unexpected, and they gave me money with a promise of more to come in installments, which was... also unexpected. Part of me wonders where that gift was, when we were struggling and didn't always know where our next meal was coming from. I've only asked for money twice, once when my old '84 Chevy's transmission was shot, and once when my cat was in the midst of being diagnosed with cancer. They contributed money, in that first case, and a used transmission put my car back on the road. Maybe they were afraid, if they gave me money before, that I'd just spend it? Living in poverty is expensive. We're on an upswing in our lives, now, with enough money to relax a little and save up for things we'd like in our lives down the road. I'm not sure how clearly they understand the desperate period just a few years back, or the fact that in some ways we're still recovering. There's a lot of things I'm not sure they understand, and it's always been a struggle to relate my side of things to them. There was, this visit, a lot more listening than I expected or remember. There was still a lot of fear, from them, for me. There always has been.
A few people told me they could see my mother in me. I spent the whole visit realizing how much of my dad's speech habits and mannerisms I have, and how much I take after him. My own mother, when we were side by side in a public bathroom mirror, said she couldn't see what they were seeing, that I look like my father's side of the family. The last morning, she took a few last photos of me sitting on their hotel bed. I noticed my hair was doing this wave I keep trying to get rid of, in the pictures she took. She told me my father's hair had looked just like that, when they were first dating. She's still struggling with who I am, and the choices I've made in my life. My father still seems okay with it all, as long as I'm a good person. Some things haven't changed. They both said they wished I had a more successful life. I said that depends how you measure success. I've been with the same beautiful girl for fifteen years and intend to be with her the rest of my life. We're renting, now, but saving for a someday house. We're about to have our second year of a garden, bigger and better than last year. We have two cats (who both my parents quietly adored), and we have the things we need. We live frugally, not because we have to, but because our desires are pretty basic. I know who I am. More importantly, I feel free to be who I am.
That last one is not something I need their permission for, but it's nice to have it.