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.
Mom and Dad