The Burden of Parenthood: Explained

“The joys of parents are secret, and so are their grieves and fears.”
– Francis Bacon

This one quote says so much about the nature of parenthood. Sometimes people complain about how they may not have received love from their parents as children, and I’m not saying that they’re unjustified in saying so. Of course there are cases where the parent does indeed deprive a child of the love that is a fundamental part of our development. Other times, however, it’s not so simple. A parents love can manifest in many ways, and they may not always be comfortable showing it in traditional ways, which would explain why they resort to other methods. The problem starts, however, when these other methods are not recognised for the expression of love that they are.

There are a million ways of expressing your love for someone. It doesn’t always have to be by saying the actual words. There were a million times when I did something I was proud of, and I wished that my parents would have told me that they were proud of me for doing it. Instead, I always got the same sentence from my dad. “Always remember, Ganesh, it is difficult to achieve something, but it is even more difficult to maintain it.”

Wow, talk about unappreciative. 

No. See, that’s my point. My dad is not the kind who can adequately express what he wants to say. That was how I used to think too, and I’d get resentful about it. “Why doesn’t he ever say he’s proud of me? Why doesn’t he ever congratulate me?” I’d think to myself. And then one day, I realised. That was how he was saying he was proud of me. He acknowledged the effort I’d put in, but he was also preparing me at the same time. In his own way, he was very proud of me. And I saw it.

I started noticing the small things that my parents did. How my mom would always ask if I’d eaten when I booked out of camp. And even if I had she’d try to make me eat, cos she knew that I’d miss home-cooked food. How my dad always offered to drive me to camp, even though he’s usually asleep by 7 p.m, and I always booked in about 9 p.m. The small things which you usually overlook, unless you’re looking. Unless you really start to appreciate what you have. It’s the willingness to clean your room for you even though you should be independent enough to do it yourself by now. It’s the constant reminders to eat properly, letting you know that they worry. It’s the constant annoying phone calls asking where you are and the endless WhatsApps, asking when you’re coming home.

So where does it all go wrong?

Quite simply, it’s the quote which says that we do not truly treasure what we have until we lose it.

Past a point in our life, we desire freedom. Whether or not we are actually mature enough to handle is besides the point, we just want it. It’s a need that we didn’t realise we had up til that point, and once we know we want it, we will do anything to get it.

We view our parents, our teachers, any form of societal order, any authority figure as shackles to the freedom we think we’re lacking. We think we’re old enough and deserve to be treated like adults.

On a completely unrelated note, here’s an article I read recently called 5 Things We All Want (But Don’t Deserve). See? Totally unrelated to any topic that we are currently discussing. 

Now, back to you, holier-Gan-Thou. (Geddit? Geddit?)

Oh god, you suck so bad.

No, no, I blow. *WHOOOOSHHHHHH*

… MOVING ON.

We feel like the authority figures (in this and most cases seen as our parents) are too restrictive. At 18, serving in the Army, I was always being bothered by my parents, who constantly questioned where I was going, what I was doing, with whom, and when I’d be back home. My standard reply? “I dunno.” I could have filled an encyclopedia with the amount of stuff that I didn’t know at that point. But woe to you if you ever tried to alert me to that fact. I did NOT want to hear that I didn’t know what I was doing.

I was being given responsibilities as a soldier (whether or not I was a real or ‘make-believe’ soldier, is a topic for another blog post entirely.) and I thought it was ridiculous that on one end of the spectrum I was in charge of my men’s training and morale, and on the other end was my mom asking me to report everything I was doing, and questioning every move I made.

Long story short (Seriously? You’ve been rambling on for a year and a half now. Oh, and by the way, you’re also a little prone to exaggerations.)…

You don’t say. The way Hitler was a little prone to violence.

Ooh, Holocaust reference. Stop there, trollbot, or suffer the various vague consequences associated with sensitive topics.

Back to topic, I rebelled. In my own way. I stopped informing my parents of my whereabouts, my activities, my comings and goings… I stopped talking to them almost entirely. And I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who has ever done/will ever do that. I neglected my parents for my friends, and opted to hang out with my friends all the time instead. Not once did I think that maybe my parent’s would miss me, that they were simply concerned about my wellbeing.

Nope, as far as I was concerned, they were the gatekeepers to the place I now considered a place to rest my head in between pain and partying, which required a non-monetary payment of accountability. Not to mention they were annoyingly persistent in trying to get me to do such mundane activities such as spending time with them, watching television and (horror of horrors) cleaning my room and helping out with other daily chores!

You catch my drift. I hope.

Another reason why this happens is that we take it for granted that our parentfolk will always be there for us. That they will never waver in their ability to provide us emotional support. Never mind the fact that we only want it from them if we ask them for it. Else, begone from this holy place!

Having then taken them for granted, we whine when they do care, and also when they don’t. See if this conversation seems familiar to you. (He said, to no one in particular save the wind, whose only response was a resilient WHOOOOSH.)

Jeremiah: My parents totally smother me, man. I’ve never been given a chance to live out my own dreams. They’re constantly on my case, begging me to find something worthwhile to do with my life. I mean, I need to see the world first right?

Hepzubah: Totally, dude. Like, TOTALLY. If you don’t travel the world and experience what it’s like to wake up at least once in a different continent than the one you fell asleep on, you haven’t LIVED, man. Also, since I seem to be some sort of ancient surfer dude, one more thing.

J: Yeah, man? What’s up?

H: Here cometh the surf, MAN. Surf’s UP, DUDE!!!

Or how about this other version.

Emma: My parent’s don’t give a hoot about me. They’re always asking me what I’m gonna do with my life, why don’t I put in more effort into my school work, and why I’m dating shady characters who seem to exclusively wear yellow jackets and maroon skinny jeans and go by the name Jerome. But they never offer advice when I need it.

Polly: Have you asked them for advice before?

Emma: Are you kidding me? Why should I? Shouldn’t they, like, totally know this stuff already? They’re parents, shouldn’t they like be able to tell?

Granted, I may have taken several creative liberties with the nature of the conversation (Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental), but the crux I think, is still relevant. We complain when our parents want to know about our lives, but when we don’t tell them, we end up complaining that they don’t care.

I’ve done it. It sucks for them. It ends up sucking for you too.

This post has gone on long enough, so I’ll end with a summary.

In most cases, the kids think they know better. In most cases, they don’t. And they suffer because of it.

When was the last time you told your family that you loved them? Let them know. Even if you’re angry with them for something you think they did. They want nothing but the best for you. Always.

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