Sunday, April 14, 2013

16 things I blame my parents for

April 14, 1984
My parents celebrated 29 years of marriage today. It's been a while since I've given them an anniversary present. Other than the traditional cleaning-the-house present, I think the last one was years ago when we made Mom and Dad Precious Moments displays out of plastic canvas and then tried to be sneaky about presenting our lovely gifts. I believe we used the ol' drop gifts on the doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run away trick. We even complemented our gifts with a beautiful bouquet of weeds. And then we were surprised that they immediately knew the presents were from us. . . .

The older I get, the more I realize that all the best things in my life can be traced back to my parents. I've actually started this post three times now (this post is literally three years in the making), trying to give credit where it's due, but I never published it because, well, cheesy gooeyness makes me uncomfortable. It doesn't matter if I'm on the receiving end of it or if I'm the one inflicting it. It doesn't matter if I'm standing in front of an audience or writing on my blog. My body associates tributes with lots of staring at the floor while blood rushes to my face. This feeling is not on my list of Emotions I Like.

But, my parents are awesome, and I don't tell them that nearly enough, so I'm just going to have to suffer the consequences and say it straight out. Mom and Dad, I blame you for the following:

1. Six deep, meaningful relationships. Since we're a family of introverts, our best bet at making friends is latching on to those who come from the same gene pool. My relationships with my siblings and my parents are the most deep and meaningful ones I have.

2. My high expectations for my future spouse. I never doubted that my parents loved each other. At times I've seriously wondered how two very different individuals came together and made a marriage work, especially since it took Mom five years to get Dad to talk. Love must be more powerful than I can understand at this point in my life.

People always say that if there's one thing dads can do for their daughters, it's to love their mom. Dad does this naturally. A few years ago, I watched the primary program put on by the kids in my home ward. At the time, Mom was in the primary presidency and helped out heavily with the music, and Dad was the bishop. As the bishopric/stake presidency members strained their necks and twisted in their seats to get a good look at the clump of children, Dad watched Mom conduct the music. His look said it all. Dad has set a high precedent in my quest for a spouse, but if I can find someone who will look at me the way my dad looks at my mom after 25+ years of marriage, it'll be worth it.

3. My career success. I'm always surprised by the level of appreciation my employers have for my work ethic. Doesn't everyone come to work to work, every day? Doesn't everyone do something when they say they'll do it? Doesn't everyone understand that to move up in the world you have to really work for it? Apparently not. My success in the business world so far is largely due to values that were instilled in me from a very young age. Even though the five of us kids have the Carter-famous "do everything you can to avoid extra work" blood running through our veins, and despite our unofficial family motto—"I have to do everything around here"—we all learned first-hand the value of good, honest work, and that is something that will continue to benefit us in all areas of our lives.

4. My independence. I'm pretty sure my first complete sentence was "I did it all by myself," so I don't think I can blame my independence entirely on my parents. However, we definitely weren't coddled as kids. We were expected to take turns at all the household chores, take care of our cars, fund our own college tuition, cook meals, get jobs, and do a bunch of other things, all before we moved out. Our reward is the freedom that comes from independence. As a fully independent woman, let me just say it is immensely satisfying to not have to rely on others for anything.

5. Loud laughter in our home. We may pretend to have manners when we're around normal people, but at home we are loud, and we laugh a lot. The Jeremys are still a little scarred, I think.

6. Years of musical memories. I can't imagine what my life would have been like without hours of early morning piano practices, years of choir and band concerts, and the musicals that graced my childhood. Our home wouldn't be the same without the random bursts into song, ranging from Josh Groban and Snow White imitations to full-out musical conversations. And lest you think it's just the girls who create all the musical memories, I'll have you know that I caught Tyrel singing Beach Boys at the top of his lungs while he was hanging upside down on the inversion table once (not to mention he does a spirited performance of "That Thing You Do" on the piano), and Dad sometimes will sing Rauol's parts in The Phantom of the Opera. A singing person is a happy person indeed.

7. A solid understanding of the importance of being parents first, friends second. Parents do their kids no favors by letting the kids be the dictators. I thought my parents were the cruelest people in the world at times (it seemed like I was the only person in the universe to have an 11:00 p.m. curfew on weekends), but, like everything else, they did it for our own good.

8. A firm foundation in the gospel. Our home was a safe haven for a lot of reasons, one of those being that it was a Christ-centered home. Even with numerous failed family home evenings and the difficulty we had with daily scripture study, the gospel was always at the center. Mom and Dad have always had solid testimonies, and they're not afraid to let their kids know it. A childhood firmly rooted in gospel principles is probably the best gift my parents could have given me.

9. My education. As a kid, I wasn't too thrilled about the thought of four years of school after finally breaking free from public education. However, education was always important (that was our second family motto: "Go to college or be executed"), so I eventually got used to the idea. Now I'm working on my masters degree and I am incredibly grateful for the doors my education have opened up for me. The benefits of education extend far beyond career opportunities, though. Stuffing your head full of knowledge is actually quite fun, and it ensures you're always progressing.

10. The fact that I'm still a Jazz fan. This one's mostly Dad's fault. Is it bad that I only want the Jazz to make it to playoffs so the Lakers don't?

11. A fantastic childhood. Ah, so many good memories.

12. My inability to be completely content in the city. Growing up in a small town like Elk Ridge is seriously the best: beautiful surroundings, down-to-earth people, no city noises or lights. Even when times got rough and it made no financial sense to stay in Elk Ridge, we stayed because that is where we needed to be. The hardest part of moving out has been adjusting to city life; for me, cities are for visiting, not for living in.

13. Hours of sleep lost due to late-night conversations. I wouldn't trade those talks for anything.

14. More books and movies than I have room for. Our family's three main sources of entertainment are movies, books, and card games. So naturally, I have to get a little creative when it comes to storing my DVDs and books. My next idea is to move into a bigger apartment. Or house.

15. The knowledge that money doesn't produce happiness all on its own. Money was never abundant in our home, but happiness was.

16. The fact that I still enjoy going home. And it's not just for the food, though that is still a strong incentive (hint, hint). Because of all the reasons listed above—relationships, laughter, music, Jazz/BYU games, love—I'll always have a good reason to go home. That will never change.

March 2012
Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad.


  1. That was pretty much the best present ever. Thanks, Pal. I love you.

  2. I love this - it's so beautifully written.