In the last year or so I’ve had a massive epiphany: my parents are not perfect.
They’re not always right and they don’t always do the right thing. Ok, you’re probably sitting there thinking wow, did you just clock on to the fact that Santa Claus isn’t real either? But seriously, it’s been a big realisation for me! If you’d told me five years ago that my parents were capable of making mistakes I would’ve laughed in your face. I can’t speak for everyone but my parents have a tendency to act like they’re invincible. They rarely ever go to people for advice, they’re the advice-givers; they rarely ever break down and cry, they’re the ones wiping other peoples’ tears. Ask anybody, my mum and dad are like the golden couple within our small town community, everyone goes to them for help (a bit like the Godfather, but Indian style :P). And so I foolishly bought into their façade too and for most of my life I’ve believed that my parents are some otherworldly duo of superheroes, living on a makeshift pedastool that I plonked them on ever since I was little.
My elder sisters, on the other hand, have butted heads with my mum and dad for as long as I can remember and to be honest I never fully understood why. Being a lot younger I always thought that my sisters were the ones being dramatic and starting unnecessary fights, my parents were so morally righteous, always looking out for our best interests so why would they ever feel the need to go against them? But as I said, in the last year or so that somewhat naïve and childish perception of mine has faded.
It’s not that I’ve become anti-mum and anti-dad all of a sudden, I still have an immense amount of love and respect for them (I always will) but I now feel like I’ve started to question a lot of what they say and do and I don’t always agree with the choices that they make. I’ve realised that while they mean well, they don’t always necessarily know what’s best for us. In particular my parents have a tendency to think about not only what’s best for me, but what’s best for our entire family too, and that’s where we largely clash. As selfish as it may sound, when it comes to certain things in life I will always put myself first. I refuse to compromise my happiness for the sake of others because I know that I’ll resent them later if I do. Conversely, my parents believe that falling in line and doing things for the greater good (i.e upholding the family name) holds top priority over everything else at times. And as annoyingly frustrating as that may be for us, I do kind of understand why they have that mindset.
Having both been born and bred in rural India in very strict households in the 60’s, they never spoke a word against their parents when they were growing up and in particular their dads’ word was law. The family was viewed as a single entity back then, individual needs were unheard of and uncatered to. The main thing to avoid was bringing shame upon the family and so everyone fell into line in order to prevent that from happening. My mum’s education was stopped at 16, and so instead of going to school she helped her mum to cook and clean for her dad and 3 younger brothers (whose studies continued up until university). Just before she turned 19 she was married off, a decision made by two acquaintances agreeing that it was a suitable match and then began a new life with a complete stranger, aka my dad! And my dad had an equal lack of input in the matter. His mum showed him a photo of a pretty young girl and said you’re marrying her and then you’ll be living in England where you’ll need to find a job, support your new wife, send us money and raise a family, now go tidy your room! (Or something along those lines). As a result, both of them grew up with the belief that their parents had the sole right to make all of their major life-choices (it was their way or the highway) and so my mum in particular now finds the concept of kids having their own independent thoughts slightly mind-boggling!
In her ideal world we wouldn’t drink alcohol, be friends with boys or choose friends over family get-togethers. Instead we’d all be married to nice boys from nice families very similar to our own and everyone would get along like a merry little house on fire.
However, my sisters and I know that it’s our job to bring our parents up to speed and welcome them into the 21st century. I refuse to be one of those second-generation immigrant kids who opt to lie and say that they’re at the library when they’re really heading to the club. As much as my parents may dislike it I always tell them when I’m meeting up with a friend who’s a boy, or going to a club, I refuse to lead a shady double life. The only way that parents like mine who are deeply cultured and traditional will ever move forwards and modernise is if their kids show them the way. And despite the countless arguments that we may get into because of that, it’s all ultimately for a good cause, I want us all to be on the same page!
And so I repeat, I’ve come to the conclusion that my parents are not perfect. Of course they’ll make mistakes, but they’ll also learn and evolve too, just like us kids do. And I guess that right now it’s easy for me to see their flaws because I don’t have a brood of my own to take care of, but like so many people say, I’m sure that I’ll understand some of their methods when I’m the one in the hot-seat with a couple of mini-me’s acting like my biggest critics in 20 years or so! All I know is that nobody’s perfect, we’re all just people muddling along, pretending that we know what we’re doing and trying to survive this crazy thing that we call life!