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Mara Star Wars

I will not turn into my parents

We all say this at some point in our lives, right? Even if your parents were perfectly normal, it seems like there's always something they do that we, as children, swear we'll never do. If our parents were a bit on the crazier end, we may more generally say we'll never turn into them on a larger scale.

I remember when I was ~14 years old I was over baby-sitting a kid about my baby sister's age and I told her mother that I wasn't going to turn into my parents. She told me all children turn into their parents. Not long after that something happened with my parents and the woman I babysat for told me I hope you're right. I don't remember what my father had done that day to warrant that particular statement, but he did a fair amount of crap most people would find unacceptable.

The part of this whole process of growing up and becoming your own person is which ideas we latch onto as the things we'll never do and how we go about them. Is it something specific? If by going to the opposite end of the spectrum on some idea are we in fact doing the underlying action that actually bothered us?

As I was walking to my car last night, I realized that one way I swore I'd never be like her is being that person who is too attentive to finding a good parking spot and otherwise avoiding a good walk. She'd always spend minutes hunting around the parking lot at the mall for a good parking spot when the rather short walk really would have been good for her. When I was a teenager I often was lazy and grabbed the first parking spot, no matter how far. Because my husband and I share a car, I'll even walk up to two miles to get the car when he has it and can't park near public transit for the car swap. I rather pride myself on my willingness to take a long walk, get some exercise, and be independent enough that I will take public transit places rather than my car. On the whole of things to not have in common with one's parent, it's not a bad one. It continues to terrify me to this day to watch my mother's aversion to exercise and her health go down hill. At fifty-eight, she shouldn't be in the terrible shape she's currently in.

However, if I were to look back at the things my mother taught me or tried to teach me, there are more important lessons I could have bucked from her that I haven't. My mother notoriously lives in the past. She remembers any real or imagined slight she's received in her life and often speaks how these slights were intentional, malicious, or actively ruined her life in some way. She often tells the story about how my sister broke her tail bone during birth as if a baby in the process of coming into this world has any notion of anything. She tells how she can't get a job now because she gave up working to take care of us kids and no one will hire someone who hasn't worked in ten years.

I don't hold onto things in the same way as her. I don't tell others how events that have happened in the past are preventing my future from happening. I try not to let events from the past stop me forever from going forward. But I hang into negative feelings too long - fear, anger, hurt. I both can't tell someone if they've hurt me, nor can I move on until the issue is resolved. My husband frequently tries to figure out what's upset me because I work myself into a rut too hard to tell him what's wrong.

If there was ever an important lesson to unlearn, it's that. Not to hold onto negative emotions. Accidental slights happen. People make mistakes. Rarely do people actually mean any harm. Life's too short to hang onto those feelings. They're just hard to let go.

Comments

I definitely agree. And as someone else who has defined himself partly in opposition to his parents - I sympathize with the broader content as well.

Hi there!

It's definitely tough. My sister defines herself in opposition to our mom as she will be able to completely support herself and be totally independent, but ends up doing a lot of the underlying behaviors that push my mother to be co-dependent in her attempts to be independent.