Punk rock parents

There’s no “Rob Blog-Post” category. So, since I’m not nearly as cute as Bailey, I’ll just identify myself upfront.

When I was seven I asked my mom about death. While my grandparents were Catholic, we didn’t really practice any religion, so I didn’t have the visions of heaven my grandmother did. Worse still, I was severly asthmatic, had been hospitalized several times, and was afraid of what might happen when I died.

My mom, probably after taking a drag off of an ever-present cigarette, told me to “shut up and not ask such silly questions”.

Now, mom was probably drunk and/or high. And I’m thirty-nine and make my own life. I forgave her long ago. But I cannot forget that she was only capable of doing a shitty job of parenting. There are so many examples — going to Disney with her second husband when I was in an oxygen tent at the hospital, nearly putting my six-year-old brother through a plate glass window, leaving my brother and sister and I in a car as she went to get too drunk to drive, or taking my brother and I to St. Vincent’s Home for Boys as a threat whenever we were being boys.

When I met Andrea at fifteen, I immediately had a relationship with her that I couldn’t have with my own siblings. Andrea and I shared the same pain, but hadn’t gone through it together. My siblings and I lived with secrets that we weren’t supposed to talk about, not even with one another. But I could share all of those with Andrea. And she could share hers with me. We talked about our fucked up parents (and surrogate parents) often.

Perhaps this is why, when I watch Andrea — and now Kelly and Tony — with Alec, Jesse, Tucker, Asa, Bailey, and Clay, their punk rock parenting is so healing to me. Andrea gives the parenting that she and I never got. As she says, she’s a steward and her job is to prepare her kids for life as adults. They’re not hers, which makes them that much more precious, because they belong to themselves and to God. Although I don’t have children of my own, every time I’m with a child and I don’t know what to do, I ask myself what Andrea would do. And it always works out.

Someone said to me yesterday that, because I’m a professor and she’s a “single mom with only two years of college”, I must think that she’s “incredibly vapid”. What she didn’t know is that I am in awe of her — the same way I am with Andrea, Kelly, and Tony. I know that I am a great teacher. And I can do a lot to change people’s lives as a professor. But I think most of what I can do is just a pale reflection of what my friends the punk rock parents do every day, all day long. Showing themselves. their children, and those of us lucky enough to know them how to navigate through the world, they change it for the better.

One Response to “Punk rock parents”

  1. Andrea says:

    Rob, I am super glad you decided to add your thoughts here. We have always been “home” to one another. I think I realized a long time ago that with family you get what you get. My sister no longer speaks to me. My father is not in my life ( for very good reasons as you know). But in my life I have made family out of my friends. Rob is my brother. Alys,Naomi,Lhianna,Sheena,and Heidi are sisters,Karen and Naomi(Ori’s mom) are like extra mom’s, Bill has become like a dad to me. It is a lesson too that we create all the positive(or negative) people and energy that surrounds us. We have a choice. Stay strong Live wrong!