The other day I came upon a brief realization relevant to the relationship between ourselves and our parents, in many but not all circumstances.
In many circumstances such as my own, we are indebted to our parents. They raise us from day one to year eighteen, and long after that. If we consider the alternative life of a couple without kids, they are giving up a lot by choosing to not only give birth to us but to raise us as their own. And although there is plenty of joy, meaning, and for the science nerds eudaimonic happiness aligned with raising a family, there is also a great deal you must give up and relentlessly endure. In a sense, our parents, the ones who are good to us, who love us, who teach us, and respectfully challenge us, are in some parts of themselves genuinely selfless.
When I was an infant my mother equated to the entire world. Both of my parents were ultimate sources of unconditional love and nurturing, and have remained that ever since my wet little body squirmed on out into the delivery room. When I grew up to be a kid I often thought my parents were evil, yes I loved them, but in many instances we argued and fought (as many families do). Even today there are instances in which I become frustrated with my parents. I believe they are irrational, I believe they behave in ways that are detrimental towards my own pursuits, or I believe that they do not truly know who I am or who I idealize myself to be. So sometimes we still argue, we disagree, and we find ourselves at odds. When I left for college at age 18 I thought that the usual bickering and tension would dissolve as I entered into full adulthood. I thought that the quarrels between parent and child were immature behaviors that could not possibly carry on into the new and refined adult relationships a family establishes when their children leave home. Yet as I continually expected the usual frustrations or misunderstandings to transform into a more mature or adult dynamic, I continued to think in the same childish ways. I still felt the frustration, the tension, and the discordance with my parents that I barely ever felt with my friends. Hence the childish behaviors never ended. What I am beginning to realize is that our thoughts are not necessarily true, and it is more often the case that they are not. So in any given moment that I believe my parents are selfish, are they? Not necessarily. And in any given moment that I believe my parents are being irrational, are they? Not necessarily.
Because above it all, I am their son and they are my family. I know in the very core of myself that they would do anything for me, have done everything for me, and are two people on this planet that will love me regardless of how many irrational choices I make (not that I do that often, c’mon guys). Above all of the momentary beliefs I hold against the characters of my mom and dad, there exists a static understanding of the amazing, phenomenal, extraordinary people they truly are. A true illustration of a man and woman who have endured far more than I could ever imagine, who have created and given far more than I can currently comprehend. And that is the framework by which I should express myself, the framework by which I am more able to sustain and nourish the relationship I idealize for myself and my parents.
All this time I have looked to my parents for emotional support, financial support, and inspirational support. It is about time that I put in the effort to create a familial environment that expresses how grateful I am to them.
To be a son who understands that what he thinks at that moment is not necessarily the way he truly feels, and should not follow into the way in which he acts. A son who listens with a compassionate ear to offer his support to the two people who have allowed him to flourish these past twenty years. A son who understands the opinions and intents of his family even when who’s “right” or who’s “wrong” is not clear. A son who unconditionally expresses himself in ways that accurately depict the appreciation and admiration he feels for his two parents, everything they have done, and everything they continue to do.
Because we need to take care of our parents, and show them how much we love them. How much we appreciate them, and how much we see them. And really, who’s stopping us?