One item which remains on our parenting agenda is teaching the girls to engage others. We do that in a number of ways, which have led me to wonder lately about my own intentionality. Specifically with my parents.
Both of the girls came to days in their maturing when I had to have a pointed conversation with them about asking questions of others, starting with immediate family, versus ever letting all conversations be led by and surrounded by questions about them. Its part of growing up - realizing the world doesn't revolve around you.
In the past two weeks Ive wondered though how much I engage my own parents. So, I contemplated 5 questions to begin the dialogue by email which has become my favorite endeavor EVER with them. Truly I feel like I know them with a richness Ive never encountered before. I cant say that enough. And all because I just asked a few questions. Their answers made me cry and laugh and sit in wonder at times. And though I wont share all of their expressions here, I will share a bit. I asked them both 4 of the same questions to start, and then 1 separate question for each. They both wrote me back on their own, not knowing what the other had written.
I learned that my dads favorite childhood memory had to do with two specific road trips to California he took with his mom and dad when he was 8 and 12. His father was a truck driver and never home so that family time on the road all together meant the world to him. (It also explained, in a very deep way, why my dad has always loved roadtrips, a fact I never understood. He maps and plans and details every trip with a scholarly execution.) I learned that he saw my mom as "confident yet fragile" when they met in college and enjoyed playing dominoes and cards with her in the "sub" at Stephen F. Austin. I learned that he wasn't scared to become a father, but was glad they had 9 years together before children came along. I learned that he would like to see Australia or New Zealand and he doesn't consider himself well-read except for that one time reading of Gone with the Wind in Vietnam. Oh, and that the bible is his favorite book because he learns something new with each reading and that he loves being able to pray for people. Amazing. Amazing!
And my mom...(letting the cursor blink) (tears)...well, my moms favorite childhood memories were at her grandparents house when she was in elementary school. She would wake to the smell of buttermilk biscuits on a wood-burning stove, sit on her grandmothers lap while she sewed, hold hands with her grandfather on the way out to milk the cows and feel enveloped in their love. Their home was her safe haven, and the place she found most life-giving. She remembers her courtship with my dad beginning with him opening a door for her at college, one that he continued to hold open for 20 more girls who just happened to be walking right behind her - they laughed and it all began. She described him as funny, kind, confident and talented when they met, then loving as she came to know him well. I learned that she wanted to be a high school French teacher when she was young, and that her favorite book of all time was "A Tale of Two Cities" because of what it taught her in an impressionable season of her life.
They each typed word after word out for me, giving me the detail and depth to make me feel as if I had come across old love letters hidden in some attic trunk - a treasure uncovered.
Growing up I couldn't see my parents because of my own brokenness blocking the view. Thankfully the Lord has brought 100% full redemption to my relationship with them over the past 7 years. I couldn't ask for more where they are concerned, and yet, I don't know them as well as I would like to. So I'm making an intentional effort to change that. Its like meeting two new best friends or reading a novel you cant put down. I love when in teaching the girls something I am the one who learns the greatest lesson of all!
If you dont know a lot of the details of your parents lives, the positive stuff not the negative, as is so often most of what we know, why not ask? Ask them about best memories from childhood, their courtship with their spouse, what teacher impacted them, what books impacted them, what music they loved most. Ask them what their favorite foods were and are, where they would like to travel and who they want to become. Im guessing you will find richness as well. Let me know...