Parents. Most times we don’t choose them. We are born or adopted and stuck with them. Our first ideas and impressions of who God is can come from those who raise us. The relational patterns that play out for the rest of our lives can be imprinted at the earliest age based on them, our usual key attachment figures. It is a gross understatement to say that I am so thankful for the two people I am privileged to call Mom and Dad. With family we see the best and worst. We have the benefits of longevity and constant surveillance to know the weaknesses and flaws that others may not. I KNOW they are far from perfect. But in my book, they come pretty darn close.
They came to visit this past weekend to spend some time with us before their year in Korea. True to form, they just wanted to give us some tender loving care. In fact, my mother tried to get me to plan a weekend getaway to the beach so we could relax, not cook or clean and just enjoy one another. One of the benefits of living in a great city like Chicago is that we can do all that without paying exorbitant amounts on last minute lodging. I convinced her to make it a staycation instead.
We did just that. No trip to Chicago is complete for my shopaholic mom without a visit to our dear friend Michigan Avenue. She got a two hour head start while I caught up with an actual dear friend, May, who was in town. Mom and I met up for lunch at Bar Toma, traipsed up and down the Mile, and shamefully spent too much money (but saved a ton, too!). Mom is a firm believer in pampering yourself when needed, and she always cheers me on to indulge (within reason). Bad influence some may say, but I appreciate her. She gives and gives but also knows how to treat and take. She has joy in life with the proper balance of caring for others while caring for the self and encourages that in me as well. I believe her fasting is not just for aesthetics or dutiful obligation, but truly spiritual. She can fast and she can pig out. I love that about her.
That night we were going to hit Kyoto for sushi but forgot the Taste of Lincoln Ave was going on and blocking our access. So we detoured to Hachi’s Kitchen in Logan Square where the kids get sushi lollipops after dinner. If it weren’t for my dad, I wouldn’t have ordered the delicious Lychee Martini. Ok, truthfully, I would have anyways, but it’s always more fun drinking together. He had already gotten a head start with the bottle of white that we were bringing to Kyoto (BYOB restaurant). We laughed picturing my dad taking a swig straight from the bottle in the back seat of the car while Mike and I formulated a plan B post-Kyoto attempt. Again, some may say bad influence, but I love that my dad knows how to have a good time. He’s passed down several great traits to me including alcohol tolerance, great teeth and boasting about our families. 🙂
The next day we hit the water park for the kids’ benefit. I had never been here but heard about it recently from a friend. Whealan Pool is on the edge of the city limits but proved to be perfect for the kids. They loved it.
At first Ethan was not sure about the two large water slides but thanks to the brave example of his friend Parker, he found the courage to attempt them. Once he did it was all over and he made a circular continuous route with the rave review, “That is so much fun! I LOVE IT!” Of course, Parker would shoot out of the slide like a torpedo most often horizontal. Then would come Ethan sitting straight up at the speed of a lazy river ride rivaling any grandpa out there. Oh, well. He loved it!
That night we were going to dine at Cho Sun Ok until the line convinced us to go to San Soo Gap San. The kids made their grandparents so proud by gobbling down excessive amounts of Korean cuisine. There is no comparison with NY/NJ and LA/OC when it comes to Korean food, but at least we do have these go-to places when the cravings hit.
Monday we hit the beach. We trekked all the way up north to the Loyola Park Beach. It’s further out than nearby North Ave Beach, but the parking is easy and cheap and the beach is relatively clean, not so crowded and more often filled with families. I did miss the skyline views but otherwise, it was great. After a day at the beach when I find sand in every possible square inch of the boys’ bodies, the car, the house, you name it, I’ll vow never to go again. But because it is so peaceful, relaxing and fun, we can’t stay away for long. Everyone spent time in Lake Michigan, even Connor who I thought we’d have to drag out to leave.
That evening we took my parents to Sepia to celebrate their 44 years together. Our good friends Peter and Jenny were able to join us and the six of us wined and dined for 2 1/2 hours. The food was delectable, the cocktails refreshing, and the company unbeatable. I cherish these moments of quality time hearing my Dad’s poker stories, my Mom’s trying to silence him, Mike’s laughter throughout, and friends who are like family to us. I also cherish friends like Monica & Conway who willingly babysat at short notice. Rather than think of it as the inconvenience it is, they actually enjoyed the boys (I think).
Tuesday I returned from taking Ethan to camp and running an errand to find that my parents had trimmed our front bushes and cleaned up the neglected greenery. The least I could do was honor my mom’s request for Birchwood Kitchen and treat them to lunch for their gardening labor.
Our Beckett family definitely felt tenderly loved and cared for as usual when my parents are here. Because of them, I am better able to grasp the intangible traits of the Father. They show me unconditional love, constant faithfulness, provision, support, and willing sacrifices for my sake.
Sometimes, I worry that they love too much. I shield them from the lows of the past year. The phone conversations have often been shorter than usual. The details left hidden. In those moments, my mom relies on the gift of girlfriends with whom I have the freedom to weep. “You talk to your friends, right, Leslie?” behind a voice that is cracking knowing that the unspoken is too hard to hear. In a rare time of neediness, I actually called them and could not contain the current crisis. When I then felt the weight of their burden on my behalf, it’s too heavy to carry. I immediately regret showing them an ounce of pain especially when my 1st generation stoic father manages through heart-breaking tears to relay his sorrow for me and remind me of his pledge of constant support and prayers. I hated knowing that I was causing them such deep aching grief. Yet I know that even when I usually try to protect them from it, that I can always be a little girl and trust them with it.
The opposite is true as well. When Mike first starting feeling improvements in his health, my septuagenarian parents were literally holding hands and jumping up and down like school children. Whatever we feel, it seems they feel it just as much if not more.
Recently I’ve been feeling at a loss in how to love and raise my children. Ethan is not yet 7, but I am already feeling that he is going beyond my understanding sometimes. I wonder how to access his heart and feelings, his mind and endless thoughts, and how to nurture him to fullness. I often fail. There is too much yelling and ordering about and I pray that his future therapist can unravel the damage that I may have caused. However much I screw up, I do have the hope of the example of my parents. If I can be to Ethan and Connor what they are to me, then the Beckett boys will be OK.