There comes a time in every person’s life where your parents become super human, super fast. And I don’t mean super human like super hero, but rather the opposite. There comes a day where your mom isn’t “mom” anymore, but she turns into a normal person. She turns into a person with fears and reservations, someone who makes mistakes and is faced with the same everyday temptations as you are yourself. We spend so much time “growing up” and “being independent” that we separate ourselves from reality in a sense.
We keep our parents on this pedestal where they are supposed to be perfect examples of how we need to be when we’re “all grown up”, but we tend not to realize that our parents did the same thing when they were our age. They went to the parties, and they snuck out of the house. They worked two or three jobs just to barely scrape by. They had the boyfriends and the girlfriends and the heartbreak that we so selfishly bury ourselves into. When they say, “believe me, I’ve been there” we never fully realize that they aren’t lying or belittling us. They aren’t trying to make light of our hurt – but they’re trying to help us realize that whatever struggles we’re dealing with have been experienced and handled before our time and the situation worked out. They just want us to realize that we will be okay, it hurts right now but it will be okay.
But sadly, our parents can’t always be the super heroes that we want them to be. There comes a day – a gut wrenching, heart breaking, reality checking day – that they become “human.”
My mom always told me, “You just have to love people for who they are, mistakes and all.” That took me a long time to accept. My mom has always been the type to distance herself from situations that she knows she can’t change. When I was sick, there were weeks at a time that she would bury herself in her work instead of answering my calls. I was really hurt by it for a long time. I eventually found out that she genuinely dreaded my name popping up on the caller ID because she has been, “waiting for the call that tells me I need to get there immediately.” She was scared. She’s human. Any mom would dread that call. But I didn’t understand that. Does that make her a bad mom?
My dad always told me, “You can always count on someone to be exactly who they are.” That piece of wisdom got me through some crummy situations in life until it went way too close to home. My dad was in a life threatening situation at work that ended in a death, and he was handling it way too well. He wanted me to listen to the police recording of the altercation so I could hear him when he was 30 seconds from death. He wanted me to understand that he was calm and level headed. He told me this type of situation is one he had been trained and prepared for, for 20 years. But you don’t go through something like that without there being some sort of mental or emotional issue springing up afterwards. I found out two weeks later that he and my step mom were having some issues at home. Long story short, I found out a lot about my dad during these family problems. I found out about a lot of his past that I didn’t know, and frankly didn’t want to know. Everything contradicted who he was at this point in time, and it changed my perspective on my dad.
I ended up going to a counselor because I was not handling it well. The counselor told me that finding out information like that, information that makes you question everything and lose all trust, is almost equivalent to a death in the family. I lost the hero I knew as my dad, and I was left with this man that I didn’t know. I fought myself everyday, “You can always count on someone to be exactly who they are.” Was my dad this person that I had found out about? Does everything in the past change everything that I’ve always known about him?
No. My parents are human. Yes, you can always count on someone to be exactly who they are, but that doesn’t mean there was no growth, no gained knowledge, no learning from their experiences. They’re human, and they make mistakes. And like my mom said, “You just have to love people for who they are, mistakes and all.”
So when that day comes, and your parents become people, and you realize that they mess up just as much as you, just remember, they’re doing the best they can. They wake up every morning and hear the same stuff on the news that we do. They read the same articles we do. They experience people they like, and people they don’t. They go home after a long day at work and kick off their shoes and try to salvage what’s rest of their day with at least a sigh of relief. They watch the same shows on Netflix, and probably rent the same movies we do too. Remember, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You probably have more in common with your parents than you know. Use the time you have with them, learning about them – not judging them for their mistakes.