I attended high school and college in Michigan and even though I didn’t “grow up” in Michigan I still consider it home. We’re visiting my parents this week, staying in the same house where I experienced my worst heart breaks, my first job offers and finally left to become an adult. The bed is different, the room rearranged and yet the view out the window is the same. It’s hard to reconcile the ultra familiar with the strangely unknown. I walk into this house not as an occupant but as a visitor. I walk thru the door not as a young woman seeking her path in life, but as a mother with children.
Because I don’t see my parents on a regular basis it is as if we have to adjust to being two new people every time we see each other. I am no longer a child, and my mother is no longer the happy hummingbird buzzing around our lives. My mother, long wracked with the pain of arthritis, stenosis, and fibromyalgia, is frustrated, uncomfortable, tired and weak. She is occupied with finding new homes for old memories. As I shuffle through pictures of me with a parade of old boyfriends sitting on the same couch, with the same windows in the background, it makes those memories seem pointless. They are pictures of a life that seems to have existed in a parallel universe with a person that was not me, but only looked like me.
However, for my children, this is a magical location. An enchanted forest filled with toys, adventures and new things. Grandma’s house has secret cupboards that contain curious things to explore and mysteries that need to be unfolded. Her pantry swelling with treats to eat and sweets that need to be eaten. Their little hearts bursting with the love and adoration that comes from standing in the light of two people who adore them, and yearn for them to be the center of their universe.
This is what growing up is all about. As I mature and see my parents as the raw humans that they are, my children see them as the perfect, glorious people of my youth.