Wednesday, January 20, 2010

family ties

The title of this post should probably be, "things my parents did right," which my teenage self would most definitely cringe at. But Mikey and I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it will be like to be parents, and we've decided to each take the time to reflect on the ways we were raised and give credit where credit is due.

This is not to say that the happy family you see pictured above is perfect: my mother once famously threw a Christmas tree across the room; my father has perhaps never fully relaxed for an entire day in his life; and my sister was one of those epic teenage drama queens you usually only see in bad after-school specials. But they managed to do an awful lot of things right, and Mike and I have agreed that we want to keep some of those things going in our own family.

So, moohoo, here are some things that your mom and dad promise you:

1) Family dinners. No matter what else was happening on any given day, 6 o'clock in the Flagg/Taylor household was supper time, no excuses. We all sat down together, whether it was for a homemade meal or pizza Friday, and had time as a family. Mikey and I are in the bad habit of parking ourselves on the couch with our evening meal, but family dinners are definitely in our near future.

2) Love of music. There was never any shortage of music in my house growing up, which I always took for granted as a normal part of any home. But apparently Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and the Hair soundtrack are not constant background noise in all American homes... who knew? Well, we're going to keep the tradition going in our home and be sure to expose moohoo to lots of music. Clearly we'll be adding Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, and David Bowie to the mix so Mike can share his favorites with the baby. And what household is complete without its fair share of gangsta rap?

3) Christmas pajamas! Christmas has always been a magical time for me, which is absolutely attributable to the love and thought that my parents put into making it the most wonderful time of the year for me and Emma. My dad becomes consumed by boyish Christmas cheer sometime around Thanksgiving, and it is contagious. He left us notes from Santa, rang jingle bells outside our door in the middle of the night, and allowed his excitement about the holiday to fill our house. My mom's knack for decorating and gift-wrapping could really shine through at Christmas, and our house always became a beautiful Santa's workshop that made the holiday seem like a dreamy time for us as kids. Most importantly, though? Christmas pajamas! This tradition was passed down from my Grandma Taylor, and it will most certainly be continued for my children--Christmas Eve means new pj's, which are the surest sign that Santa is coming. I can't wait to share my family's holiday cheer with our new baby.

4) Political literacy & Social conscience. No excuses, in the Flagg/Taylor house you were going to know what was going on in the world. We watched the news, read the paper, and talked about the social tragedies and victories around the world. From a very young age I was taught to pay attention and care about the world around me. Our heroes? Ted Kennedy, John Lennon, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich. But regardless of political affiliation, it's the conversation that matters (well, who am I kidding, affiliation matters, too... I was always taught it's "party lines or bust" at the polls), and Mike and I want to keep that going with our kids, too. Politics is not just for the powerful, or the famous--it's for us, and we need to be involved. So get ready for your fair share of rallies, moohoo. You're gonna be making waves with your aging hippie grandparents.

5) Compassion. As a 7-year old, I fell madly in love with Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block fame. I had the posters, trading cards, dolls, and cassette tapes of hard-hitting interviews that asked the NKOTB about their first kisses. I was mildly obsessed. This obsession hit a new level when I decided that it was a good idea to call a 900-number that promised a chance to speak with Jordan and the other New Kids themselves. I wasn't quite real-world savvy enough to realize how much of a scam this hotline was, so I made the mistake of calling several times. When the phone bill came the next month, I quickly realized my error. My father's outrage over the high bill was palpable, and I chose to hide in my room rather than tell the truth about my irresponsible dialing. When he asked me if I had made the calls, I committed the bigger mistake of lying. My dirty little secret was short-lived, however, as the 900-number was conspicuously splashed all over the New Kids posters that lined the walls of my room. Immediately upon being found out, I began to blubber, ashamed of my actions and sure that I was going to be forced to live on the street as a result of my foolish phone habits. My dad's response? A soft chuckle before asking, "Awww, Hil, did you even get to talk to them?" "Nooo," I wailed. Well I think this evoked some pity from my father, who decided to show some compassion and just give me a hug as I cried. This is not to say that I was not grounded for the next week, but in that moment I just felt relief and gratitude that I was not going to be forced into child labor to pay off my debt. I truly hope that in moments of anger and disappointment I also can show moohoo some compassion and understanding, and find humor in the most aggravating of circumstances.

There are lots of other things that I should probably be recognizing in Laura and Kenneth's parenting skills and styles, but this list is a pretty good start. Sappy as it may sound, seeing parenthood up close and personal as a part of my role in life has given me a new appreciation for the work that went into raising me and my sister. Most important thing I want to carry on from my parents to moohoo? Love, love, love. Nothing in the world feels better than knowing you are loved, and I grew up knowing that there is perhaps nothing so sweet as a parent's love. Mike and I plan on making sure moohoo feels that love all the time.

Mike will be posting his own entry about the things we're hoping to replicate from his childhood in the next week or so, so stay tuned! In the meantime, we're just continuing to enjoy lots of quiet time spent feeling moohoo kick and roll around, and very soon we'll be starting on her nursery. It's a pretty sweet life. :)


  1. Hilary what a beautiful tribute to your parents. I laughed & cried reading this post. Also, we shared a mutual adoration bordering on obsession with Jordan Knight. I used to sit on our deck and wait for their limo to drive by my house, certain and completely believing, that they would need to stop and use our phone or bathroom. Ah the innocence of youth.

  2. I hope Mike talks about enpelopes, cheeseless grilled cheese, and all the fun he had in that attic of his. I can't wait.