As we grow older we change the way we look at our parents. Things change even more when we become parents ourselves. There are things we learn to understand more about them and why they act in this or another way starts to make a lot more sense.
We learn to see our parents beyond their parental role and recognise them as people and personalities.
This is when we acknowledge not just their decisions but also the rationale behind those decisions. At the same time, we invertedly notice that sometimes our parents could make mistakes and could be wrong. We finally reach the point in our life when we see the human, with all their imperfections in our parents, before we see the parent.
In reality, we all make mistakes and choices, which are not always right. We are human, we are not perfect. As adults, we start to see things about our parents we didn’t notice when we were children. We finally learn to recognise and appreciate their strength and their wisdom, their quirky personalities and fascinating interests. Other times, we see their own immaturity and their flaws.
Then, comes the time we start to look and compare ourselves to our parents. We start to question whether their choices would be our choices, whether their ways would be our ways. We, as adults and as parents face the decisions our parents had to make in their own time. We chose the path and we become accountable for our own choices, later brought to us by our own children when they grow up. Before we know it, our parents ask our opinions as adults, not just their children. Suddenly, our parents stop being these unreachable beings whose word is always the last and turn into someone who seeks our advice and approval. Tables turn.
The time comes for us to be there for our parents as much as they’ve been there for us. It’s time when we can finally sit down and talk like grown-ups, voice our opinions and feel proud to be the child or the parent of the person in front of us.
However, there are times when there’s no relationship. As a child, we may feel that there’s something wrong with us, or the situation and often blame ourselves. As grown-ups, we still carry that pain hidden deep inside. With time we learn to recognise that things are the way they are not because there’s something wrong and needs fixing but because they simply are. However, the child in us remains hurt.
I remember the last time I talked to my biological father, I was about 20 and the conversation didn’t go well. In the end, he said that I was just like my mother. He intended that comment as something negative, as an insult, yet it brought a smile to my face and I simply replied Thank you.
You see, my parents got divorced when I was 7 years old. My father was never there. Until about 15 I really sought his love and attention, as a child I wanted him to acknowledge me. Then, I’ve learned the hard way, that I wasn’t needed. At the same time, I learned to understand that my mother was my mother and father, my best friend, and my rock! So when years later I got a phone call from a man who didn’t know my date of birth, how old I was or if I have finished a school or university, telling me that I was too much of my mum, I couldn’t help but feel proud! As all I ever wanted was to become at least an ounce as strong, inspiring and beautiful as my mother has always been.
Today, I am a mother myself. And like no other time before, I appreciate the sacrifice, the hardship, the challenges that my mother had to go through to bring me up by herself and give me the best future she could. And she did with her head held high.
Unfortunately, my father passed away before I had a chance to ask him all the questions I had kept inside since childhood. I haven’t seen him in over 10 years before he passed. The child in me would always feel somehow abandoned. Throughout my life, I fought my demons and in the end accepted my father the way he was- an imperfect human.
I grew to understand a simple truth, that blood doesn’t make you a family. I had my expectation of him as he was afterall my father. Despite my age, the child in me, untill the day he passed sought his approval and wanted to hear that I did him proud. Why? The man was never even there. Yes, but the child in me simply wanted to know that she had a father , she belonged and she was wanted.
It took time to work through all those heavy feelings I was hiding deep inside for so many years. In the end, it was yet again my mother, who helped me understand that my father and his ways were not a reflection of me, it was simple his choices and a reflection of him as a human being and as a man. I had nothing to do with that.
Today, as an adult I understand that we can’t expect people to act the way we want them. Family or not. Even if they are wrong, it’s their choice. It’s not blood, it’s the way we act that makes us a part of something special – a family. Sometimes family can bring more pain than a stranger. Some families are not meant to be together and in fact exist a lot happier apart. We are all different and blood doesn’t make us understand or feel each other better it simply makes us related. What I’ve learned is that it’s ok to let go sometimes.
I believe it’s always good to try. No matter what, do it for yourself. Give it a good and honest try and if it doesn’t work, at least you know in your heart that you tried. That’s what I did. After years of trying to reach out I stopped. Then, after my father passed away, it took time before I finally stopped torturing myself with the questions he’d never answer. It was my turn, to act like an adult and to tell the child in me that there was nothing wrong with her. I accepted the fact that somewhere deep inside, I may always have that gap, but that doesn’t have to be any more than just a part of my story. The woman I am today will always feel most blessed and proud to be the daughter of my mother.
If there’s one thing that I took away from my father, then it’s the value of being a parent. Perhaps he didn’t teach me anything directly but his ways as a father have surely taught me what a parent should not be. Therefore, it has always been my dream to have a complete and happy family and to be the best parent I can only be for my children.
I hope that I do my best for my son and when he grows up he’ll see mostly good in what I and his father did. I hope he’d have more to agree with then to disagree when it comes to our choices. I hope the mistakes we make would be insignificant compared to all the things we do right. I hope he grows up to feel that he had a happy childhood with parents who loved him very much and did everything to keep him happy and healthy. I hope he learns the best from us and in his own time, he becomes even better than us.