Friday, May 22, 2009

Regarding Parents

When does the change happen that the relationship with our parents begins to change? Is it when we start to see their rules as “unfair” and begin to rebel? Or is it when we begin to see the reasons behind these “unfair” rules and to appreciate what they did for us as we grew up? The more time that passes and the further I move along in life, but more I come to value my parents as resources. They are certainly still my role models, but not in the idol-worshipping sort of way they are when we’re silly, thoughtless children; now that I have thought over all they have done and how they have gone about raising me and my sister, and as my peers and I begin to confront the question of raising children ourselves, I am finding that the people I would most like to use as role models in this instance are my parents.

But as I said before, I now have come to value my parents as resources. This is differently than how I valued them as a teenager, or even when I was in college. In those years, I still expected them to take care of me. When I had a problem I couldn’t seem to solve myself, I didn’t go to them with it in order to seek out instructions for how to solve it—I went to them with the expectation that they would solve it. Now, however, things are different. Not only do I not expect my parents to solve my problems, I wouldn’t want them to.

Somewhere along the line, at some point in these past few years—maybe within the past twelve months, even—I have come to feel protective of my parents. I want to take care of them. I don’t want them to worry for me or about me. They have enough worries of their own. I use them as my support system, to be sure, but I feel an even more yearning desire to allow them to rely on me, as well. When I am at home (their home? In Pittsburgh?), taking anything for free feels almost like stealing since I know I would ordinarily have to pay for everything on my own. My desire to be independent is no longer so much a need to “prove myself” as a need to leave them free of worries and concerns they have had their whole lives.

I see families with young children, and I shake my head at the years of stress they have ahead of them. Joy too, to be sure, but I can only imagine how much mental anguish I caused my parents as I grew up. Even now, I have no concept of what they think or feel on my behalf. Do they want to still do everything for me and actually have to restrain themselves and suffer from feelings of powerlessness? (I am positive that is how I would feel, which is why I suggest it.) Do they think I am overdramatic zing every little issue that comes into my life and yearn to tell me, “This is just the way life is; suck it up!” Do they never worry until I ring them up with yet another stressful, harrowing story of falling off my bike on the streets of NYC or struggling with an insurance agency that won’t pay claims?

All I know is that when people ask me if I will ever move back to Pittsburgh, I usually respond that it looks doubtful—except for one caveat. If my parents were ever to fall ill, I would move back to Pittsburgh. I don’t know when my idea of the role of the caretaker changed, but I only hope that when the time comes for me to fulfill my role, I will be prepared.

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