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Friday, November 19, 2010

...a post on Parents....

When we are young, the term “parent” refers to someone whose sole purpose is to meet our every need and make sure we are properly taken care of. In our unmolded and fresh minds, we believe that parents miraculously come into existence the same day we are born, and not a second before. The idea that our parents had any sort of life before ours is practically impossible to comprehend, so it is typically concluded that parents simply are, and always have been, parents. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the etymology of the word parent declares that it comes from the word parere, to produce or bring forth, making it safe to assume that parents skipped childhood altogether and were put on earth as full grown adults for the sole purpose of raising a family. It is because of this that parents have no idea what it is like to be a kid, and cannot truly understand what we’re going through.

When we get a little older, parents still haven’t the slightest clue as to what it’s like to be us, and we make sure they know it any time they butt in or try to give us advice. Over time, they evolve from caretakers into ridiculously unfair rule makers that are determined to ruin our lives. On occasion, we attack them with accusatory phrases such as “I hate you” and “You’re so unfair” in an attempt to make them feel guilty about not letting us have our way. Unfortunately, no matter how relentless our efforts, they always manage to infuriate us more by calmly asserting, “Someday you’ll thank me,” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” As we stomp out of the room we make sure to have the last word by reminding them that they’re too old to understand, and that they’re wrecking everything…not to mention the all powerful, and ever defiant slam of the door.

Luckily, puberty doesn’t last forever, for most of us, and by the time we graduate high school we are blessed with a newfound wisdom and maturity that we never realized we previously lacked. It is around this time of life that we are finally able to overcome our pubescent idiocy and recognize what our parents were trying to be to us all along: comforters, counselors and friends. News flash—Parents really did experience childhood! They really did stumble their way through their own teenage years! And they weren’t lying when they claimed to understand what we were going through. For some, this is a hard reality to come to terms with, and each of us begins to pray that we won’t have children as stubborn and ridiculous as we were. Of course, things will be different when we’re parents; we’ll be so cool that our kids will want to be our best friends. Then we remember that the more our parents tried to act young and hip, the more we resented them, taking us back to square one. We are all doomed to become just like our parents were: agonizingly misunderstood.

As an unmarried senior at BYU, and two years older than my mother was when she gave birth to me, I have recently become interested in the story of how my parents met. Theirs is an interesting tale, and one that causes me to consider my place in the universe and the possible significance my unimportant life might hold. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Every man is an impossibility until he is born.” Though this quote may seem deceivingly straightforward and clear in its meaning, it poses quite an interesting suggestion: there are a myriad of different paths we can choose to take in this life, and even the smallest decision can take us plummeting down an entirely different journey than we might have originally been planning on.

I guess my story truly began on a crisp autumn morning in 1985. My mom, Amy, was at the beginning of her first semester at BYU, ready to tackle any challenges and circumstances that life decided to throw her way. Like most college freshman, freed from the chains of high school and immature boys, she found herself madly in lust with a handsome BYU football star, and had her mind set on being his wife someday. Despite these solidified plans, a suave blonde by the name of Scott Frogley caught her eye. After a few non-committal make-outs and casual dates, the pair drifted apart and went their separate ways. This didn’t matter of course, because my mom was going to marry her football crush anyway.

The following winter semester, my mom attended a dance where she met a guy who looked awfully similar to Scott. As it turned out, he was Scott’s older brother Curt. The eager young man braved asking Amy for her number and she willingly obliged. Unfortunately, this young man that had appeared so anxious never called. This same semester, as finals week was reaching its end, my mom came across yet another face that seemed strangely familiar. She hesitantly approached this handsome brunette only to confirm her suspicions: another Frogley brother roamed the BYU campus! Fortunately, he was just as good-looking as the first two. She explained how she knew Scott, and after some short and shallow conversation he walked her out to the parking lot where she reunited with her long lost fling. Addresses and goodbyes were exchanged and she and Scott resolved to keep in touch while he was on his mission.

In less than one year’s time, my mom was presented with four completely different journeys upon which she might travel. However, after witnessing the horrible way in which a dear friend was treated by her husband, Amy became unimpressed with the male species and resolved never to marry. Lucky for me, my mom was not the only one in charge of dealing the cards. As fate would have it, five months after she said her goodbyes to Scott, her friend finally persuaded her to go on a date with a guy by the name of Clark. My mother soon figured out that Clark’s last name was Frogley, and that he was in fact the third brother whom she had met the winter before.

From day one Clark was a charmer; he could have written the book on how to impress the ladies. With a little help from the flowers, presents, and gentlemanly gestures, the two immediately hit it off, and Amy was pleased with her hot new beau. Having been previously engaged, Clark was unsure of the relationship and decided to dump my mom a few months later. It took a wise and slightly envious roommate to talk some sense into the young man, in which case Clark came crawling back. Though still unsure of what her future had in store, my mom surprisingly found herself unable to resist his request. For one week things went back to normal and then the pair found themselves separated for six weeks while Clark travelled overseas performing. Once it was time for him to return, Amy decided not to accompany Curt to the airport to meet him; she just wasn’t ready for a serious boyfriend. However, it seemed there were more important things on the line than Amy’s personal agenda, so when Clark stopped by her work that evening, all tan and sexy, she was doomed. As they embraced, her necklace caught on his button and the beads scattered hauntingly upon the floor. They both knew there was no turning back; these two were meant to be. By the time Scott was off his mission, my mom greeted him with a sparkly ring on her finger and a 3-month old me in her arms.

Marilyn Monroe once said, “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right…and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” When my mother’s future remained undecided 25 years ago, I was still an impossibility. What would have happened if things had worked out with Scott from the beginning? Would I still be me if my mom hadn’t given my dad a second chance and married another? It’s an interesting thought to consider that other children might have been born if my dad had married the first woman he was engaged to. Life oftentimes presents us with the unrequited question of whether or not all things happen for a reason. Those who believe that theirs is a life of insignificance and triviality are sorely mistaken. In regards to the principle of cause and effect, Buddhism explains that everything that happens to an individual will not only affect them internally, but also influence others externally. All our actions, good and evil, will determine our future, and the future of those we affect. No matter how discouraging and bleak the future may seem at any given time, we can always be reassured by the fact that our souls will learn and grow, and everything will work out for the best. Of all the options my mom’s life presented her with, the journey with my dad was the only one that could have led to the existence of me as I am today, and for that I am grateful.