September 5, 2012
**This week’s installment of Vintage Frog Lore is a personal favourite. Enjoy.**
Something my mother taught me…
My father hurt my mother in ways that I find unconscionable and unimaginable. Yet I never once heard my mother make a disparaging remark about him. She did say that the hardest thing about divorce was the sense of failure, the tendency to blame, to ask oneself “what have I done wrong?” But just before divorce proceedings began my mother was still willing to reconcile. Things became contentious. My mother told my father she was willing to forgive him and start over. My father declined. My mother realized she had given it her all, went through with the divorce and never looked back. My mother says she has no regrets and as far as the breakup of her marriage is concerned has not doubted or blamed herself for even a moment since.
Something my father taught me…
My father and I reconnected a few years back after a long, long period of estrangement. We sat down one evening and shared a beer. Unprompted, he started to talk about my mother, about how grateful he was to her for the job she did in raising us, how good a mother she was and how often he boasted about these things to other people. Towards the end of our evening together he expressed his deep regret over the dissolution of their marriage. He wished he could do it all over; wished that he had the opportunity to make different choices, better choices for himself, his wife and his family. My father claims to not remember my mother putting reconciliation back on the table.
What my mother taught me about sex…
When I was a child, maybe nine or 10, my mother handed me a book called A Doctor Talks to 9 -12 Year olds or something like that and said, “Read this and let me know if you have any questions.” Then, when I was 15, my mom called me into her room, opened her closet and asked me to look into the large plastic bag that sat on the floor. When I peered into the bag I saw that it was filled with condoms. My mother looked at me and said: “You know I don’t believe in pre-marital sex, but I’m no fool. If you’re going to have it, be safe. Let me know if you have any questions.”
What my father taught me about being a ladies man…
I was six or seven. My father and I were in the mall. We were killing time before he had to go pick up my mother from work. A woman approached us and started chatting up my pops. She was an absolute stranger to me but I clearly wasn’t a stranger to her. She kneeled down in front of me, pinched my cheek, told me how cute I was and offered me a bag of chips. My mother never gave me chips. So I gladly accepted. I ripped open the chips and began to devour them as my father and the lady continued to talk. I couldn’t help but notice how she touched my father, laughed at his jokes and leaned in to whisper into his ear. I also noticed how engaged he was, how at ease he was and how much he smiled at her.
Fast forward 20 odd years later and I’m out having a drink with my father. He strikes up a conversation with a group of ladies at the bar. They couldn’t have been much older than I was. My father starts telling jokes, asking their opinions on things in the news and buys the ladies a round of drinks, all the while comporting himself like a gentleman. Next thing I know, one of these ladies is giving my father her number and telling him that they should get together sometime to have a drink or something. After the ladies make their exit, my father takes a swig of his drink and without looking at me says, “Sex, they want it just as much as we do.”
What my parents taught me about relationships…
My parents split up when I was really young and officially divorced when I was eight. My father remarried and started a new family. My mother raised three children on her own. I don’t remember seeing my parents hug, kiss or otherwise demonstrating affection. I do remember hearing and seeing them fight, nothing really crazy or anything, but fights nonetheless.
Through the years, I watched as my mother devoted her life, the entirety of her existence to her children. I watched my mother shut down any man who tried to date her. I watched as she took the measure of these men, deciding they did not meet her standards, standards I eventually realized only my father could meet.
One of the last times I talked to my father he reiterated a belief that men should not get married until they reach their 40s. My father feels that men do not become the men women need us to be until we reach this “lofty plateau.” In his own variation on the whole “if I knew then what I know now”, my father says that God willing, if he had waited longer to get hitched he’d still be married to my mother. My father punctuated this conversation by saying:
“You know; I still love your mother. Always have, always will.”