Brunch Offensive: Trust in a Beautiful Future

chicken and waffles with syrup and butter on a dinner plate
Image by snowpea&bokchoi / CC BY

Skyspook’s Parents Read the Blog

I’m stabbing into a plate of chicken and waffles, coaxing a precarious squiggle of bacon jam onto my fork, when she says it.

“Page, we’ve been reading your blog.” It’s Skyspook’s mom. My mother-in-law.

“You… you what?” I say.

Skyspook smiles. “Really?” he says.

“Oh yeah, it’s great,” his dad adds. “She reads it all the time.”

“Well,” his mom says. “I ran out of games, and I was bored. So I thought I’d look it up.”

“We took the quizzes,” his dad says. They argue back and forth over their results on the love languages one. I note that his mom’s is acts of service and dad’s physical touch — i.e., Skyspook’s #1 and #2. So that’s where Skyspook learned it.

My own parents haven’t taken it but are clearly gifts and acts of service, my bottom two. I wonder at that. How is it that some of us take after our parents so much and others become something entirely different?

Skyspook and his parents move on to talking about something else, but I’m still lost in thought. The waffles are a bit dry, so I tip the syrup cup a touch. Not too much though. Don’t want to make it too sweet.

I know I’m being rude not following their conversation, but I’m swept away by all of the things his mom could have read. About our sex life, sure, but also about our fights, times where I’d hurt their son.

When I tell his mother this, she laughs. “Page, it isn’t like we haven’t had fights of our own.” And it’s true. Over the 5 years that I’ve known them, they’ve had plenty of ups and downs. Skyspook’s parents were separated when I met them. But somehow they’ve worked it out. And are happier together than I’ve ever seen them. They broke up. Went to therapy. Dated others. And their path led back to being together. And that’s just on screen — that’s what was obvious to others. Which tells me some really exciting things surely happened in private, clashes that are theirs alone to know.

My parents, conversely, never really seemed to like each other but settled. Their marriage was something decided on a long time ago, so why mess with it? They stayed the course. Comfortable but boring. Vaguely annoyed and disappointed with each other. Forever sweeping potential conflict off into corners, where it can’t harm anyone. Mom fought the rest of the world enough. Left Dad the hell alone.

“I can’t believe you read my blog,” I say again.

“Why?” Skyspook’s mom asks. “It’s interesting.”

I don’t know what to say.

“Page is freaked out because she respects you guys. And her parents were never supportive of her writing,” Skyspook says.

And my stomach drops 6 stories. The truth of what he says hurts so badly that I go numb.

My mother would search my room and punish me for what I wrote. It’s why I alphabetize so easily. And why I can tell you instantly that Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet. I learned to write in cipher. A simple numeric one where A equals 1 and Z, 26.

Mom left the numbers alone and was happy I was so interested in math.

Trusting in a Beautiful Future

When Skyspook’s mom and dad told me a few years ago that they’d be my parents if I wanted them to be, that they’d love and accept me, I never realized that I would be the last holdout.

That I would feel uncomfortable, unworthy.

That I was invested in my own story of being fundamentally unlovable. That there was something defective about me that made it so that I didn’t fit into my family of origin.

That it is easier to trust in a terrible past than a beautiful future.

As Mark Manson writes:

We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others…There are those who suffer through bad childhoods. There are those who are abused and violated and screwed over, physically, emotionally, financially. They are not to blame for their problems and their hindrances, but they are still responsible — always responsible — to move on despite their problems and to make the best choices they can, given their circumstances…Sure, some people get saddled with worse problems than others. And some people are legitimately victimized in horrible ways. But as much as this may upset us or disturb us, it ultimately changes nothing about the responsibility equation of our individual situation.

We all have a responsibility to do the best that we can, regardless of the hand we’ve been dealt. Sometimes that responsibility is exciting, dramatic. An easy thing to recount after the fact. You get a hell of a story.

But more often, that responsibility is mundane, nigh invisible. They’re the tiny choices that you barely register, let alone remember. Where you don’t know how something will turn out, but you put yourself out there anyway. You send that text to apologize. Listen to someone who sounds at first like they are full of shit. Accept a compliment that embarrasses you to receive.

You test your intuitions against reality.

Because even though it’s terrifying not knowing, you would rather believe in an uncertain truth than a certain lie.

 

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