Jon Hillenbrand - 009

There are these people, you probably know them.  They are your birth parents and the people who raised you.  Sometimes these are the same people, sometimes not.  And like you, they are separate from you, individuals.  They party or they don’t, they have dreams, they sacrifice, they are selfish and greedy and they believe in their hearts that they have a destiny.  Unfortunately or not, they also have desires.  Sexual desires.  And that has led them to procreate and make you.

Because of the luck of the draw, some people are blessed with amazing parents who love them and want the best for them.  And then there are some others who get middle of the road parents.  Those parents are good to a certain extent, but perhaps they are still holding onto that which has defined their lives before parent-hood, individuality.  And then there are those people who should never be parents.  The dregs of society, who abuse their children, use them for unspeakable ends and generally give parenting a bad name.

Of course, I’m speaking of “parents” and “parenting” in the most general of ways.  You can say, “My parents sucked,” but it’s a generalization.  Of course, there was a time when the worst mother or father did something very selfless and kind and good for you.  Maybe staying away was that act.  And maybe they used that moment as justification to make up for all of the bad things they did before or after that time.  I remember growing up how my mom used to be in the middle of yelling at me, and she’d slip in, “I changed your diapers!”  For her, that was the most selfless and kind act which would make up for anything that came after.  And maybe she’s right.  Diapers can be annoying and miserable.

For the most part, children seem to grow up automatically.  Like plants, given food, water, air and nothing more, their survival is assured.  Of course, there are people who believe they are shaping the minds of their children.  And what the hell do I know, it’s probably fact.  But I remember from very early on thinking that my parents had no impact on my decisions.  From the vantage point of time, I realize that I have gained my good and bad qualities from them.  But the individual acts were always my own.  I remember one kid in grade school doing something bad, and my mom said it was bad upbringing and probably the parents’ fault.  I was so confused at that viewpoint, and I still am.  Sure, maybe a kid was raised in an abusive household.  But the choice to be a bully, for example, is the choice of that individual child, and always has been.  The illusion is that the parents control the actions of their children.  They don’t.  And there comes a point where every parent will need to realize that the person they have raised is an individual.  Parents, you didn’t make your children.  They would have grown up without you and you were just along for the ride.  And children, your parents would have lived without you. You were just along for the ride of their lives as well.

The whole point of this is that the street goes both ways.  I’ve always felt like an individual separate from my parents.  So I should admit that my parents might feel the same way.  And just as they are wrong to think that, I’m wrong as well.  My existence is forever tied in to those that birthed me and those that raised me.  It’s a tie that works for some and not others, but its existence is there, like it or not.  My parents need to drop the idea that I am going to change all of my thoughts and actions and beliefs to mirror what they think, do and believe.  And concurrently, I need to conclude that they are just people trying to figure things out with me.

So maybe on Mothers Day and Fathers Day, instead of feeling like I don’t want to do anything because I’ve already done so much for these two people, I should just consider that despite whatever good or bad connotation I sum up their efforts with, I should just keep in mind that the whole thing is equal parts individual and family.  Their bond to me is a bond I have to them.  And though they want me to be a certain way to reinforce their ego that they have a good kid, and though I want them to be a certain way to reinforce my own ego about what kind of parents I have, we are three individuals along for the ride with each other, three who, ready or not, are on the roller coaster of life together.

What do you think?