I’ve not always had an easy relationship with my parents. Despite my description of my childhood being that I was particularly close to my Mum, the fact still remained that I never really felt comfortable enough to share too many personal details with my parents. Growing up I never discussed my crushes or fallouts with friends. I never had heart, to hearts with my Mother or had my Dad have a firm talk to me about boys and boundaries. My Mum is Asian and had her typical expectations over my sisters and I and as I spent many years without my Dad I did feel like we were lacking a certain bond.
I was quite a difficult child to raise. I felt very misunderstood and couldn’t always articulate my thoughts and feelings, therefore, communication with my parents was hard. We all bashed heads so often that sometimes I could see the look of defeat in them. Sometimes I would look in the mirror and see someone completely different, I wasn’t the daughter they had thought I was, that much was clear. I wasn’t like my sisters, I wasn’t happy to just take the criticism or parenting they wanted to dish out. I questioned every form of authority they tried to enforce on me and demanded respect and freedom way before I ever actually earned it.
I was frustrated and they were frustrated. They couldn’t understand why I wasn’t like my good and obedient sisters and this made me angrier. As a kid, the last thing you want is to be constantly compared to other people. I wanted to be my own person, I dealt with going to school and being seen as so and so’s little sister and so I had no patience for my parents either. Seeing as my sisters were so good, I wanted to be bad. At the time I thought lashing out was the only way I could differentiate myself from everyone else and I loved to be rebellious, I thought it was the best way I could get the attention I felt I was owed by my parents.
Lord knows that was many years ago. I never understood what my parents were trying to do for me, I couldn’t see their intentions or that they wanted more for me.
I spent my formative years doing everything opposite to what my parents wanted. I hung out with naughty kids, I smoked, I stole, I drank, I flaunted my sexuality. Each and every misdeed was like a middle finger to my parents like I was punishing them for punishing me for being me.
The being me part, was completely wrong, though, I was convinced who I was at 13 was who I was going to be forever.
I think my teenage years were the worst years for our relationship. My Mum and I could not get along. I just didn’t want to take any of her bullshit and as for my Dad, well there was so many underlying feelings of abandonment (thank you many years of therapy for figuring that out) and resentment that I felt but didn’t understand and so that came out instead as me just wanting to be difficult and angry.
When I experienced my first heartache my Mum surprised me by being supportive through it. We bonded in a way that I didn’t think we could. She shared stories of her past heartbreaks and I felt like I was getting to know my mother. I finally understood her way of thinking and approach to love and relationships. I imagined her young self having her heart broken and it suddenly clicked. For the first time, I could see my Mum as an equal and all it took was for me to suffer a traumatic relationship to get to that point.
As for my Dad, our bond was established when I decided to randomly take a gap year between A levels and work instead. As we lived in the middle of nowhere my Dad offered to drive me to work in the city. We would both get up very early in the morning and make the 25-minute drive to work. Through this journey we talked and even though he had been in my life for much longer than he hadn’t been, I felt like I was getting to know my Dad. Once I returned to school my Dad and I continued to set aside time to spend together, even if it was just to take an hour sometime during the week to go to the local pasty store and eat our warm pasties by the river. I finally saw what my Dad was trying to teach me for many years and that was to try to find happiness in even the simplest of things.
As I went through my teenage years my relationship with my parents got better. As I got older I started to understand a little more about what they were trying to say, why they did what they did and what they hoped to achieve by it. When I went to University I leant heavily on them for emotional support. They were always on the other side of the telephone to talk me through any difficulties that I encountered. I’d never been so far away from home and was always homesick. They always made me feel like I was in a safe place to admit that I was frightened of being on my own. They never made me feel ashamed or embarrassed to cry like a little baby missing her parents.
My Dad and Mum worked hard to make sure I had every support system I needed to complete my degree and I owe that honour to them. I would not have achieved a BA Hons, without them and because of that I am eternally grateful for them.
Our relationship had gone from the lowest of the lows to slowly rising through my years at University. We got stronger as a family unit and I learned to respect them, granted it was many years late but still I felt in my heart that I appreciated the things my parents did. I finally understood why they didn’t allow me to do certain things as a kid and why at times they seemed to watch me too closely. I see now that they weren’t trying to suffocate me but instead help me find my way. They probably watched me a little more closely than my sisters because they felt I needed it more?
All I know is that my relationship with my parents changed for the better because none of us gave up on each other, I’m grateful they never gave up on me. When they could have quite easily have said, well, one failure kid out of 5 isn’t bad, they instead loved me that much harder. We allowed time and had the patience to see out the difficult years and we’re at a place when we can have our much anticipated weekly chats (minimum) frequent text updates, and regular visits.
I now look forward to going home for the holidays and seeing my parents and family, I no longer feel that divide or alienation when we’re at family gatherings, and now in my 20’s I consider my parents my friends, because without them, I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish much in my life.
My parents gave me the opportunity to have a life they never were able to have, they created an atmosphere where I felt it was safe to grow and to dream. My parents made me fearless and strong because they instilled in me the belief in myself.
I am grateful that in my adulthood I’ve had a second chance with my parents because they make the best friend a girl could ask for.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!
Peace and Love