All of my friends rolled their eyes at their parents to differing extents. There was always one who got along well with their parents, had good mutual respect and communication and we all would gravitate to that person’s house. The rest of us, to varying degrees, had a tough time with parents and I heard many utter more than once that they were never going to turn out like their parents. Make their parent’s mistakes. Treat their children like their parents. Conform or compromise like their parents. The list goes on.
And then, of course, one day, somewhere in there, you find yourself doing something so shockingly like your parents that you catch yourself and think, “Oh shit.” And usually, it’s okay, you accept it and move on. Realize the rationality of the sentiment or the action that was so elusive while you were younger, and think for a fleeting moment that maybe your parents weren’t the morons you thought they were. It’s inevitable. It’s endearing. It’s humanizing. Acceptable also mainly because you’re still able to define yourself without borrowing entirely from your parents.
But what I’m talking about, is turning into the the guilt trips, the “can you turn that music down”, the refusal to accept us as grown adults with occasionally significant and viable opinions, the neediness, the expectations and disappointment at our failure (read: possible disinterest) to live up to those expectations, whatever it is that drives one crazy about one’s parents. Maybe I’m being too specific here about my own struggles.
Perhaps it is fixed. We are raised and molded by them, so susceptible to their personalities, opinions and whims. Maybe we are on a path from day one to be a replica of one of them. Maybe it is impossible to resist and a waste of energy. Maybe in our fight we are merely reenacting their own struggle against their parents which is mind numbingly depressing and makes everything seem despairingly pointless. I hope the urge to reproduce isn’t simply because we want to continue ourselves, leave something behind once we realize that death is inescapable.
I think both my parents are incredibly remarkable people and I have learned much and know I still have much to learn. But, I do not want to turn into either of them, however futile that stance may be. I don’t want to guilt my children into doing anything, I don’t want them ever to feel that in their interests or choices that they have let me down, that I would have wanted them to turn out any differently then the people they choose or chose to be. While I realize I will not always understand, I hope to be able to comprehend their stance the majority of the time. I hope I can remain open minded, accepting and curious for them. I hope that while I may pass on tidbits of useful information, that I will also be open to learning from them.
And I hope that my friends will help me. Because I’m realizing I might need a lot of help with this one.