7 Things You Don’t Realize About Your Parents Until You’re In Your 20s

American Pie
American Pie

THEIR LIVES DIDN’T STOP WHEN THEY HAD YOU

Just because your mom popped you out of her cooch doesn’t mean she wasn’t at least partially consumed with the same drama she was before you were born. For me it was watching my mom cry in the car over an ex-boyfriend while Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” played on the radio. For some of you it may have been a tense week around the house because your dad is sick of your mom’s shit or he blew their savings playing Keno at a local Chinese dive. Their lives were just like your lives but with slightly bleaker details.

THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY’RE DOING EITHER

This was huge for me. By the time I reached my mid-20s, I was constantly advising my mom on how to get over things, ways to make her small business boom and why she shouldn’t divorce my lovely step dad. She may be better at balancing a checkbook than me or knowing when to take her car in for an oil change, but once you’ve explained to your parent way they’re paying an actual $120 more for Internet than they should, you can’t help but feel like the teacher has become the student in some ways. And if you’re not there yet—trust me, it’s great feeling to school the person who once slapped you on the knee for making a rude remark about your soccer coach’s “trendy” facial hair.

THEIR TASTE ISN’T THAT BAD

I spent the majority of my teen years straight-up pitying my mom for her taste in music and chunky sweaters. I deeply disliked her ever-changing hair dos, adult braces and weird men she dated. But once you start to get that being grown is knowing that you look your best when you’re being yourself, you can’t help but think, “Maybe I should get adult braces, they’re kind of cute. And maybe Randy wasn’t a complete tool.”

90% OF THE THINGS THEY DID TO TORTURE YOU WERE ACTIONS BASED IN FEAR

If you gave me a baby tomorrow and told me that it was on me to keep it fed and safe and decent, I would throw it right back at you and run to West Hollywood where I could drown myself in 2-for-1 margaroos until buying an $89 trip to TJ seems like the best idea I’ve ever had. I would tend to the farm of a family who let me sleep on a cot in the back room of their tiny home and take pills with the locals at night. Maybe I’d go fishing. And if I didn’t do that, I’d probably call up my mom in a state of panic and admit that I have no idea how I’m going to do this and forgive her for the insane chore lists, her refusal to let me drive until I was eighteen and why I dressed like a FLDS girl until I was seventeen.

THEY PITY YOU FOR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, BASICALLY

I have only fucked up like, a medium amount so this is especially true for me. I’m not proud of this, but from time-to-time I will allow my mother to fully access the mix of fear, pity and general control freakiness that she has re: her only child to come out and I’ll take advantage of it. In fact, just as recently as yesterday I let my mom fly out to Los Angeles to Boston to clean my closet and make space for a desk. It serves both of our needs: She gets to feel like she can still stick her fingers in my life and I have my closet transitioned from summer to fall. I don’t think her offers would be a plentiful as they are if I was doing better than I am or if I still was smoking pot three times a day and refusing to brush my hair.

THEY HAD TO KEEP THEIR SHIT TOGETHER FOR A LONG TIME

Some parents completely blow at their jobs and give into every whim to be an irresponsible mess, but most of our parents kept their game faces on for a solid twenty years. I can best describe what I mean by telling you that I grew up in one of those “all natural” homes where if you wanted a snack you had to boil your own oats to make it and Grape Nuts were the biggest treat on the menu. It sucked but I have a fairly appropriate relationship with food as an adult. But then my freshman year of college I came home for a couple of nights with a sack of laundry and a partied out body that needed a home cooked meal. When I plopped down on the couch, I realized I was sitting across from a bowl of Jelly Bellies. Like, just on the table for casual consumption. My first thought was that my mother had lost her fucking mind as a result of becoming an empty nester, but then I realized that maybe my mom had always wanted to keep bowls of candy around the house but she didn’t because she knew that was all I’d eat. For eighteen years this bitch sat on her desires to help herself to a casual a kind of dedication you have to respect.

YOU WERE KIND OF A CUNT

I guess it’s not totally the kid’s job to catch up to a parent’s way of thinking, but now that I take in the full picture, I can’t help but think it would have been nice if I made life a little bit easier for my mom because let’s face it: raising a kid sounds mostly like an endurance test that only someone who hates you (probs God) would sign you up for. I probably would have been better off not calling my mom a cheap bitch when she wouldn’t send me to Florida with my girlfriends senior year. Maybe I shouldn’t have challenged her rules on letting me be alone with my high school sweetheart, especially since I stalked him on Instagram the other day and he’s completely revolting. The only way I think I can remedy this one is by having a child of my own who takes a revenge shit in the bank parking lot because he refuses to hold it while she made a last minute Friday deposit. Or giving birth to a daughter who takes the first-edition Make Way For Duckling book she inherited from me and decides that the black and white illustrations need some colorful swipes from her busted up Crayola markers. Circle of life, much? TC mark

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