Present Tense

Approved

We all need approval.  From someone.  It’s part of our human make-up.  I’m just like everyone else in that department.  As a morning radio host, our job security relies almost entirely on the approval of our listeners.  Or at the very least, the attention of our listeners. They don’t have to like us to listen and trust me, I’ve heard from enough of them who DON’T like me over the years to know this is true.  With radio ratings, it’s all about quantity; size matters.  I just have faith that it also means that they like our show…and me.

But, I think that most of us strive for and crave the approval of those we love.  We particularly want to make our parents proud. It’s a delicate balance for parents, I suppose.  The fine line between blowing sunshine up your kids bums and truly expressing your pride in their accomplishments.  My parents were never the blow sunshine types.  Their philosophy is that you didn’t get congratulated for breathing; everything had to be earned.  Respect, good grades, money, privileges, awards.  They didn’t hand you ‘self-esteem’ you earned it and not just from them, but from the world at large.

To many, that sounds pretty hard core; to others, it sounds familiar.  That upbringing has served me well in many, many respects, but it also left me feeling as if I’ve lived up to most of my parents’ expectations, but never got the props from them.  I’ve often commented that my mom and dad have no concept of the professional success that I’ve achieved and I’ll be honest, it’s bothered me.  I’ve let it eat at me.  I’ve resented that they haven’t gushed about my fame and fortune enough to fill my needs.  And of course, I’ve felt guilty about that resentment because they gave me a pretty great start in life.  Resentment and guilt.  Add in a little anger and you’ve got the three legs for the stool of unhappiness:)

My mom turned 92 a couple of weeks ago and then this past week, I turned 53.  She can be sort of loopy on occasion, which I  find charming because it’s softened her a bit over the years.  Anyway, I picked up the mail and there was a large envelope from my parents. I could tell it was from them because she has taken to putting not one, but TWO return address stickers on all of her correspondence; one with her name and one with my dad’s.  It makes me smile every time.

I figured it was a birthday card, but what I found inside was a Valentine’s Day card from me to them.  I’d apparently sent it while away at college and I was moaning about the fact that I felt like an “orphan” because I never got any mail from my brothers and sisters.  I complained that my mom was the only one who cared about me.  It was very self-pitying and dramatic.  The type of thing that I figured would make my mom roll her eyes.

Inside the old card was a note dated 10/26/12 and here is what it said:

I ran across this special card from one of my much loved daughters.  I probably saved it because it really touched my heart; back when I was worried that you weren’t very happy and I wished so much that I could help you find something to help you find a happier, more fulfilling life.  Well, you finally did find it:  the “man of your dreams”, a fulfilling and successful career, your beloved dogs (how many through these years!)
We’re so pleased for you and wish you not only this Happy Birthday, but as many more as we’ve had.
               Much love,
            Mom and Dad

Mission accomplished.

November 3, 2012 - Posted by | Musings | , , , ,

44 Comments »

  1. OMG!! AWESOME!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY AGAIN I HOPE YOU GOT FIRST WISH!!

    Comment by Marge beem | November 3, 2012 | Reply

  2. :) That’s the best!

    Comment by kandisnz | November 3, 2012 | Reply

  3. That was a treasure, receiving that card…! How sweet!

    Comment by Becky B. | November 3, 2012 | Reply

  4. That made me smile- been there done that with my folks as well. Happy Birthday, Jane. I’ll follow you into 53 in a couple of weeks.

    Comment by Denise | November 3, 2012 | Reply

  5. Receiving a note like that from you mother is priceless. Let’s you know it’s all been worthwhile, and she has noticed!! That’s the best recognition ever!

    Comment by Terri | November 3, 2012 | Reply

  6. That was one of your BEST present tense pieces ive read…. A great tribute to u and our mom…very sweet and i hope she reads it as well.
    Hope u had a happy day!!!

    Comment by Marsha | November 3, 2012 | Reply

  7. My experience with my mom was very similar to yours, Jane. I, too, wondered why she seldom praised me and all my accomplishments. Then one day, she let me know how very proud she was of me and it lifted a great burden from my heart and soul. We went on to enjoy many years of great communication and the joy of just being together before she passed away 3 years ago. Best gift I’ve ever received!!!

    Comment by Cori Jackamore | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  8. Don’t mean to be dramatic, but that made me cry. Understanding your mom and dad/my grandma and grandpa/ makes it all more meaningful…and those words written by your mom are probably very few and far between. BUT WOW, what a beautiful gift indeed. :)

    Comment by meredith | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  9. Jane, many years ago my daughter seemed to be going through a “thing” with her attitude towards me. This was as a young adult. Her brothers noticed as well. I asked one of my sons what he thought the deal was and he so wisely told me that she was looking for, and needing some recognition from me and she obviously wasn’t getting it. I took that to heart and started giving her affirmations that I had just been taking for granted; and guess what, that was exactly what she was needing from me. She just needed her mother to acknowledge her in a way that we need our mothers to. I keep that in mind with all three of my kiddos now. Sometimes I need to verbalize to them, and not just to my friends, how proud I am of them and what amazing individuals they have grown up to be. There is just something about needing to know, or more importantly needing to hear from our parents that we have done well. Their approval is so important to us. I remember as I was raising my family, and knowing that I was doing a good job, how much I wanted my mother to tell me I was doing a good job. I longed for day I would actually hear those words from her. I eventually did, but it wasn’t until they were actually grown and on their own. But when I did, it meant so much to me!

    Comment by Terri | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  10. How about Paradise Street? Love your blog!

    Comment by segmation | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  11. I love that your mom kept that card for decades because it was special, then made it even more special by adding to it and sending it back. There’s beauty in the way letters are tucked away and revisited over the years. Your post makes me think I should dig out my box of letters from years ago and see if there are any I might want to add to and send back to let people know they’re still dear and important to me. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Comment by Annie | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  12. i approve of parental approval

    Comment by under the skies of arkansas | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  13. That made me smile…and cry. Good stuff!

    Comment by May Your Soul Stir | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  14. This is such an interesting piece, and is extremely touching. The need for approval is something we can all relate to, I’m glad you shared something so affirming. Also, many congrats on being Freshly Pressed :)

    Comment by Anna | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  15. Great post! So true!

    Comment by Jeremy Truitt | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  16. enjoyed reading this – approval is something we all crave and I am so glad you got yours (and from the sounds of it–had all along)

    Comment by on thehomefrontandbeyond | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  17. I have stopped looking for this approval that we all crave, though it is very hard to do, we live for our parents to validate our existence and feel empty without it. I am glad you found the card, it would have been very touching.

    Comment by edgeledge | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  18. Congratulation on being Freshly Pressed! I know you are thrilled that your parents have been proud of you all of these years. That’s the best thing ever!

    Comment by beadstork | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  19. wow! ;( I hope I can find all that as well one day…

    Comment by stephsoul | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  20. I really like your blog and would love you to feature on mine, http://www.5thingstodotoday.com. All you have to do is write five suggestions along with a link back to your site. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about.

    Comment by 5thingstodotoday | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  21. I know how you feel, my parents have been the same. I hope to get something like this from them one day. Cangratulations!

    Comment by adventuresinsynchronicity | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  22. tears in oz..

    Comment by bodhisattvaintraining | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  23. Sally Field summed it up: “They like me! They really like me!”

    Comment by debdundas | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  24. I can totally relate to this post :) I, too feel like I have resented my parents for not communicating to me that they are proud of me or I have met their approval. Thanks for making me feel like I am not the only one and that someone out there relates.

    Comment by jennysuethomas | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  25. Your post reminded me of this parenting article I read years ago.
    It’s a good article to discuss with your parents (and others) :

    http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/gj.htm

    Comment by Looking and Learning | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  26. Although not a parent, I’ve always given approval and appreciation to my colleagues and friends because I know how awful it is not to be appreciated. Thank you for an inspiring take on approval. :=)

    Comment by beezzacademy | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  27. I am not a soppy person but your post has brought tears to my eyes. The ageing of our parents is so heartbreaking – you want them to be Mum and Dad for ever, but then they say or do something that is just not OK or you realise that you do things a certain way and its their ‘fault’. That card they sent says in a few short lines what they probably always thought but they are only human and we humans make mistakes. Thank you for this post. It has really made me think.

    Comment by katiedz | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  28. wow that’s amazing, what an amazing story, thank you for the share….

    Comment by sabrinacarvalho | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  29. Parents have the ability to put you on an extreme high and extreme, you gotta love them though!

    Comment by Ricari2 | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  30. It sounds like your parents struggle with the same concerns my wife and I do. I pray we are as wise and give our children the support and love yours did.

    Comment by Joe Owens | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  31. Thank you for this. An excellent reminder to be sure and tell my own daughter how proud I am of her. And happy belated birthday.

    Comment by Amy | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  32. Our parents seem to see us as their little child no matter how old we are or how accomplished. One of our basic needs is validation and who better than mom and dad. They may not always validate our accomplishments but instead, how much they love us. For them love may be the most important of all.
    I could relate well to your post.
    Thank you

    Comment by Dr. Katerina Rozakis Trani | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  33. I get so sick of my need for approval. About a year ago I told myself, WHO CARES! What a good choice haha Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Comment by sportsandthecross | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  34. Reblogged this on Dreams Will Catch You.

    Comment by dreamswillcatchyou | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  35. How unbelievably adorable of your parents. Thank you for sharing!

    Comment by mostlikelytomarry | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  36. simply lovely to read – thank you x

    Comment by divinesecretsof | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  37. How lovely….made me teary eyed.

    Comment by Maribel | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  38. Really enjoyed your post and you made a very true and profound point. I think we all long for approval from our parents no matter what age we are. What a blessing to receive that from your parents. I called my mom today and when she heard my voice she said, “What do you want?” Hahaha! “Hi, Mom…just checking in to see how you’re doing.” Too funny!

    Comment by Lu | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  39. This was a great post to read, and I can relate to it as well…

    Comment by Chaviv | November 5, 2012 | Reply

  40. Welcome to our family of “Adult” children!!

    Love, Bib Sis

    Comment by Janice | November 6, 2012 | Reply

    • Maybe it really is “Bib” Sis by now since I’m soooo old! But I really meant Big Sis.

      Comment by Janice | November 6, 2012 | Reply

  41. It’s hard to fight the conflict of needing to please our parents (especially off they did a good job) with making our own way in this world (a by-product of their success). Nice post.

    Comment by lsurrett2 | November 6, 2012 | Reply

  42. Great post. It resonates well with me. I look forward to reading more.

    Comment by Ten Carat | November 7, 2012 | Reply

  43. Jane thanks so much for sharing that wonderful event in your life…..I’m thankful for the message it brings! It’s NEVER TOO LATE TO APPRECIATE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE! and what a jolt of love for them!

    Comment by Adelle Cullumber | November 7, 2012 | Reply


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