Dear Mum and Dad,
Being a good parent is hard. Of course, you know that, but I’m still learning.
As a young teenager, I mostly only saw you, my parents, as being the fun police. You were just old people that didn’t understand me. You were the undemocratically elected rulers of my life, and the tightfisted custodians of my pocket money. You would instruct me to go to bed when I wasn’t tired, and then order me to get up when I wanted to keep sleeping. Everything was so unfair.
But that was then. I’m a parent now too. I realize how hard it can be, and I’m starting to understand, and also appreciate why you did what you did. I don’t need to say everything I want to say here, but I want to say something.
You didn’t have to send me to an expensive private school. It must have been very difficult to budget those fees within your underfunded teachers’ salaries. But you did it because you believed it would give me a better life. And I think you were right. You recognized that I needed to be challenged, and that I might rise to the challenge of being in a class full of other smart kids.
I get it now why there were rules about homework, why you insisted we all ate together as a family with the TV off, and why I had to earn my pocket money. I get it now why you would be angry or frustrated if I came home with a broken school bag or with the knees torn out of my trousers.
I didn’t always see it then, but I see it now. You were amazing parents and I will never be able to thank you enough for everything you sacrificed, so that Andy and I could aim higher. But you are more than just great parents. You are role models.
Mum – you were outnumbered in our house by males three to one, and yet you imbued sensitivity and kindness in all of us. I have always been inspired by your patience, your discipline, and your creativity.
I still look to you for advice on so many things, not least on Dune and her education. And I hope you will continue to give me advice, even when I don’t ask for it. Like when I’m on the tee at the 11th hole at Roy Kizer Golf Course, and I take out my driver to try and cut the corner over the lake, and you ask me, “Do you really think that’s a good idea?” Thank you for always being motherly.
Dad – I feel like I had a unique experience being the son of a physics teacher who would tell me off by reminding me of Newton’s laws: “You have to think about the consequences of your actions!” That’s a good thing to remember, but perhaps the best lesson you ever taught me was your mantra of “Work Hard, Play Hard”. That’s how I’ve lived my life.
I also know that your sense of humor, your passion, and your dedication to individuality are personality traits that I’ve embraced. Your other motto of “Better out than in”, however, I’ve not followed as strictly.
Even as a schoolboy I was proud to be your son. Whenever I’d meet someone who went to Arthurlie Nursery School or Hutchie Grammar School, I wouldn’t hesitate in asking them if they knew Mrs. Reid or Mr. Reid. Inevitably they would respond warmly and tell me that either of you were their favorite teacher. I know that you inspired me, but you’ve almost certainly inspired hundreds if not thousands of others over the decades.
I’m sure you are proud of me too, but I can understand if that wasn’t always the case. I expect it might have been difficult in the late ‘90s or early 2000s if you bumped into a friend in the supermarket back home and they asked how I was doing. I don’t regret those times when I was off writing in Australia, or getting divorced, or managing bands in Austin, but those are not necessarily the sort of things that reflect well on you.
Eventually though, I got my shit together, and I made it as an attorney in New York City. I know that probably scored me some extra points in the supermarket aisles of Glasgow. I expect you felt that the sacrifices, the financial constraints, and the rules had finally paid off.
I wasn’t always proud of myself you know. But there has always been a part of me that wanted to make you proud. That was definitely a factor in deciding to go to New York.
I hope that I’ve continued to make you proud as I’ve grown older, and I’ve found a loving wife. Perhaps the proudest I’ve ever made you feel was giving you a grandchild. I still look forward to making you proud of me, and I know Farah and Dune want to as well.
We don’t say it out loud very often to each other, but I do love you. We all do.
Another inspiration to me has been the way that you both took care of your parents in their final years. You were there to pick them up when they were down, and to comfort them in their pain and their loneliness. It was hard work I know.
I know that I am thousands of miles away from Glasgow, but as much as possible, I want you to know that I will be there for you too.
But we don’t have to think about that for a very long time. For now, you deserve to enjoy your retirement. You deserve to be grandparents. And you deserve to still be a Mum and Dad without having to follow any rules.