Lessons In Growing Up: Parents Are People Too

family and parenting
Kevin Delvecchio

I love my parents more than I love myself. I have a tattoo on my left arm that represents loyalty to my mother, and I have already planned to get another on my right arm for my dad. I can’t go a day without speaking to them at least 3 times. I call my mom when I wake up, text my dad, and then update them periodically throughout the day. Some may call this overkill. But, who cares, right? They’re my parents. They have to put up with me, love me, and answer my calls.

Hmmm no, not really.

I used to think my parents were sub-human and of the robot variety. I called them my “parental units” all through… well, I still call them that actually. As characteristically naive and entitled as this may sound, I believed with every fiber of my being that my parents had to love me, be there for me unconditionally, and even answer to me by sole virtue of the fact that I am their child. Life had always been this way. I had no idea that things were supposed to change.

When you move out of your parents house and attain some of your first tastes of true independence, a lot of culture shocks are thrown into the mix. Though I hate change, but accept it, and have beaten that concept to death, this one was by far the most difficult. All my life I have suffered from separation anxiety. I was never abandoned, yet the fear of abandonment persists. There’s a saying that goes, “if you love something/someone, let it/them go.” Well, I say if you love someone let them know… constantly.

The other day I was fighting the blues in my bedroom at school. I woke up alone, as a single girl usually does. I felt less than fabulous due to particularly angering circumstances. So, what did I do? I sent a text to my dad and called my mother (after texting her of course). They were less than pleased to hear from me. It was nearly 7am and I was just about ready to exorcise my feelings in the form of messy tears. You’d think I would take my own advice and write it down instead of sobbing over FaceTime.

After finally calling me back a full two hours later, my lovely (yet stern) mother cut the metaphorical umbilical cord.

“Christel, it’s time to grow up. I am truly sorry you’re hurting, but your father has a job. He’s stressed. I have my own stresses. We have lives. You need to distract yourself and get over it. Please stop calling at the smallest inconvenience.”

WHAT?! I screamed. BUT I’M YOUR DAUGHTER YOU USED TO CARE WHEN I WAS SAD.

“Yes, and we still do. But, you need to learn to take care of yourself and know that when you’re upset, we’re upset. If it’s something you can get over then do that.”

BOOM! There it was, the shock I needed.

The point of this series, other than to utterly humiliate myself in exchange for minor public adoration and laughs, is to say what nobody else is saying. Yes, I realize this essay portrays me as an entitled sufferer of Peter Pan Syndrome, but isn’t that every 20-something nowadays? I couldn’t tell you.

What I can tell you though, is that as much as I love feeling my feelings and sharing my thoughts, I never imagined that I would be placing a burden on those who I share them with. Namely the loves of my life… my parental units. More so, I never realized that family members are not intrinsically wired to care about everything that has to do with you/me/us. Astonishing, isn’t it?

Since, said mind blowing phone call, I have been doing more thinking about my parents on a day to day basis, and less calling them. Upon hanging up I asked myself, if the tables were turned, would I want my parents to call me at any moment to dish about their feelings? Probably not. I have a schedule that I follow very closely and the same can be said for them.

I guess growing up means realizing that you can’t have it all, all of the time.

Whether that be emotional security or, well, anything really. It means seeing not only the parts of your life which your loved ones occupy, but also, your own standing in theirs.

When you see your parents as the same sack of skin and bones as yourself, you start to put together much more than you thought possible. Parents really do have lives of their own, and a lot of it has nothing to do with us—their children. Mine go out to eat at trendy restaurants as often as possible, just the two of them. They plan weekend activities and trips to take… without me and my siblings. They even have feelings and opinions about things that have nothing to do with mother/fatherhood; opinions on topics that I don’t agree with. They can be fed up with me, and they can love me all the same, but my parents no longer have to put up with me. That is just how the cookie crumbles. TC mark

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