Parenting Without Parents

I am the youngest of 4 kids. My siblings all told me that I was raised with different parents. What I think they meant was, by the time I got around to being a defiant, willful, narcissistic monster, my parents were just too tired to give a crap.

Sure I was disciplined, but apparently it wasn’t with the same ferver that was used on them. I really got away with anything by the time I was in high school. While my parents were busy traveling the world and my siblings were already out of the house, I drank bottles of their single malt scotch, threw house parties, and had sex with boys in their bed.

I don’t think I went to school for a full week straight when I was a Senior. I remember my sociology teacher threatening to fail me for not wearing shoes to class. My girlfriends and I would ditch class, drink screwdrivers and watch VALLEY GIRL or Eddie Murphy in DELIRIOUS most afternoons.

I would have loved some more guidance, discipline and attention. My siblings thought I was lucky not to have them breathing down my neck, but truth be told, I felt like my parents just didn’t care about me so in return I didn’t care too much about me either.

It took years of bad relationships, numerous therapists, and many good friends to build my self esteem back up. By that time, my mom wasn’t around to witness my transformation. She died suddenly when I was 19… years before I began to blossom into the confident, happy, secure Woman I sometimes am today.

Fortunately my father was around and not only did he see my transformation, he became my biggest fan. We talked at least 2 times a week, emailed regularly and had many, many long deep conversations about life. He constantly told me how proud he was of me for going after my dreams. He remarried my step-mom and they lived a very social, semi-retired life in Rancho Mirage. That’s where Jews go to grow old, eat in restaurants and golf.

June 18th was the day our birth Mother was induced. As Peter and I sat in the delivery room watching her go through labor, my Father and Step-Mom called and told us that they were heading to LA to meet the baby. We told them to come that upcoming weekend as previously discussed. It was 5pm. Were they really about to get on the freeway from Palm Springs to come to LA!? We told them they couldn’t meet the birth mom, we didn’t know how long her labor would go on for and it might be a night of them sitting in a waiting room alone. They insisted. We were too preoccupied with the impending birth of or daughter to talk them out of it and truthfully, it felt great knowing they would be so close.

Approximately 2 hours later, they showed up and camped out in the hallway of Cedars-Sinai outside of labor and delivery. Our birth mom ended up delivering only a couple of hours later. Miraculously an empty room at the busiest Hospital in town opened up right next to our birth mom’s. It was unheard of really because they kept putting off our delivery earlier in the day because they had too many moms in labor.

We were able to go into that empty room mere moments after our daughter was born and my Father and step-mom got to meet her, hold her and share in what was truly the greatest moment of our lives. Soon after, Peter and I went to the nursery to give our new baby her first bath. My Father watched me through the window of the nursery. There I was. His baby holding her baby. I felt his love, support and pride through the thick glass as he beamed at me, his face red, his eyes full. I mouthed, “I love you,” to him as he finally left to get back on the road.

That would be the last time I saw him. He died suddenly 10 days later.

Now that Harper Joy is coming up on her 4th birthday, and in preschool, I see kids her age with their grandparents all the time. They pick them up from school… join them on play dates… have sleep overs. I always smile at the grandparents and go on and on about how lucky they are to see their grandkids grow up and how important it is. They look at me oddly as if to say, “Thanks, weirdo.”

Sure, being the baby of the family meant I could get away with driving my Mom’s new Saab without her knowing or having one of my high school boyfriends, Ray Pinkus, whose parents threw him out of the house, sleep in my closet for a week without them knowing… but my older sibling’s kids clocked years of important Grandpa time. Graduations, birthdays, Passover Sedars, vacations. I was to have none of it. Simply put, I was robbed.

This morning was Mother’s day. My daughter brought me all of her fairy princess wands and her favorite princess necklace and told me they were my Mother’s Day presents. She asked me if I had Mother’s Day with my mommy. I said, “Yes.”

She asked, “Your Mommy is an angel now?”

“Yes, honey she is.”

She then asked, “Are you gonna be an angel too?”

I squeezed her little hands, “Not for a long time, my love. Not for a long, long, long time.”

I’m picking my grandkids up from preschool dammit, if it’s the last thing I do…

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