I spent my life rebelling against what my parents wanted me to do/become/learn fill-in-the-blank.
Some of my earliest memories are of not wanting to go to the temple, getting angry at being forced to get up early in the morning to pray, or not being able to eat until the prayers were over (which, during holy days, could be well into the afternoon.)
Another memory of a rebellion (one I regret): not leaving my braces in when my parents were not in the room or overnight. My teeth are crooked and it is all my fault. They tried, dear god they tried. But if you are as stubborn as I am, you know how it goes…
One of the things my father insisted on was that I get a good education in a field that would be immediately marketable. So he pointed me towards business and wanted me to get my CPA. I, of course, wanted to study Art or English. Fine lines of study, but hardly marketable, even back in the early nineties (well, looking back at the news then, I guess they were even less marketable than I thought!). I wasn’t able to pursue those degrees because my father held the purse strings. He kept telling me that he wanted me to be able to stand on my own feet, and not have to depend on anyone to take care of me. I would scoff internally (well, mostly, because I also have memories of some pretty god-awful fights…) and dream of the bollywood/hollywood hero that would show up in my life and take care of me forever.
I wasn’t the greatest student in college; in fact, I was pretty mediocre. The only classes I got As in were English and Art. But I was able to graduate in four years, just barely. And I got a job, working for a friend’s father who was able to put up with my lack of skills and patiently show me the ropes. I am ever grateful to that family.
And I got married, not to a bollywood/hollywood hero, but to a man who seemed at the time, to be a dependable, stable man who loved me totally, and who seemingly convinced my parents that he would take care of me and love me forever. My parents had a lot of doubt, but I think they ended up agreeing just so they could continue to be in my life.
Fifteen years later, I can see the validity of all their points.
My husband was not able to keep a job for very long and has a resume several pages long. It is always someone else’s fault, or the economy, or whatever. I stopped believing years ago, that he was someone I could depend on to take care of me and my children. Of course, I didn’t get to that stage quickly, as I fought that knowledge, first with anger towards all his bosses, and then with resentment towards him, then with pride that I could succeed when he couldn’t. Now I only feel pity.
My career in accounting has always been dependable. Luckily, I have always been able to get a job, and (except for once) be able to choose when I want to leave and move on. I have a great work ethic and had great bosses (and not so great ones) who have shown me how to lead.
I also fought that ever-growing knowledge that my parents knew what they were talking about. But with the passing of years, there came acceptance, again, first with anger, then resentment, and now sadness. Sadness for the years that I wasted, fighting to prove my point, that I knew best, and then finally, that I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know best, that I wasn’t a good judge of character…
And now that I am a mother, I can see how hard it is to let your children make their mistakes, knowing full well what they should be doing, but also knowing that they won’t listen to you if you are insistent.
It is a fine line.
Parents do know best. But that’s the heartache, isn’t it? There’s very little chance that your child will take your advice. And you have to stand back and watch them struggle and struggle and struggle to reach that understanding for themselves. And that is a punishment all in itself. For the child and for the parent.
You don’t want history to repeat itself. But how do you prevent it?
It seems to be the human burden.