My friend's facebook page says,
"I never knew how much my parents loved me until I had kids of my own."
This is mostly true. I had a sense of how much my parents loved me. For one, they told me all the time. But more importantly, their actions trumped any words they could ever speak.
But then you become an adult, and your relationships shifts a little. I still seek counsel from my parents, but it's different when you have your own life experience to weigh. And since I've spent my adult life thousands of miles from the rest of my family, sometimes words were all I could rely on for my love language. For years I didn't need much more than that.
Then I had Pigtail. My parents arrived mere hours after she was born and stayed those first two weeks nurturing me and The Gorilla through our new-parent shock. My dad rocked that tiny screaming infant longer than anyone else. My mom cooked large homemade dinners every night claiming that "a breastfeeding momma needs lots of calories."
Last summer my parents flew to sunny California not for vacation but to help us move, an arduous task that no one actually enjoys. In less than a week, my new house was together enough to throw a birthday party, and we were all bathed, rested, and well-fed. In the fall, my parents didn't bat an eye when I dumped my baby in Oklahoma while The Gorilla and I jaunted around Europe for ten days. They picked me up at the airport with a content Pigtail, a little chunkier and clad in soft new clothes.
In a way I didn't before, I see how my parents love me. My mom loves on my entire family by shoveling food in any mouth that walks by, creating games and activities that can be done at the kitchen table, and almost never saying no when my siblings or I ask for help. With anything. My dad always has a kid in his arms and he's willing to take on the tasks that no one else will. He is the dad that gets up at 4am to load your suitcases into the car. His advice to us is always thoughtful and measured.
It is, of course, because they are the best kind of people. Their family makes them happy, and they want us to be happy. They are self-sacrificing, but fully expect us to be also. That's how life passes on.
It's easy to quantitatively list the many ways they are good parents and good grandparents, but I didn't understand the well this love springs from until I became a parent. Taking care of Pigtail isn't like any other love I've been a part of. It doesn't feel like a relationship that you choose. It feels like you just do whatever you need to do to make sure that baby is living the best possible life.
And I'm working with the best set of blueprints.