I’m sitting outside on the porch digging up the earth with a stick. My digging is getting closer and closer to the flowers that my dad planted in the spring for my mom. They are beautiful, radiant, unlike my mood.
I am fuming as I look for an outlet for my anger when my younger brother sidles past.
Wrong? I think as I watch him pick up a stick and wield it like a sword, hoping that I will join in the battle as we’ve often done in the past – battles that usually end up with him crying because I’ve smacked him over the head with my stick after growing bored from our games.
“What’s wrong?” he asks again, elevating my blood pressure and increasing my ire.
“Get away and leave me alone!” I lash out, ignoring the fact that he is innocent and I am guilty…again.
“Geez, just asking.”
“Go bug someone else! I hate you! I hate everyone!”
I stand up and this is his queue to run as fast as his little legs will carry him. I almost forget my anger and laugh a little when he breaks into a military zigzag pattern across the lawn to avoid the inevitable stick that will follow the path to his head. In the dark recesses of my devious mind I wonder what it would be like to throw a stick at mom and dad.
I’m 18-years-old and I know everything. Everything that is, except what goes on in the minds of my parents who have denied me yet another opportunity to show my maturity. I’ve grown tired of their demands and their pep talks about ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘remember who you are’. They insist that I can do better than that as if ‘that’ was really such a bad choice. After all, it is my choice and I have given it a lot of thought. Or at least, ten minutes worth of thought.
Who cares if they have seen it and done it all before? I’m technically an adult and I don’t need their approval anymore. So why am I still here? Why am I still listening to them drone on about living up to my potential and being an example for my younger siblings and cousins.
I hate my parents.
That was a recurring theme in my life as a child, youth and young adult. I can’t even tell you the number of times I thought and often verbalized how much I despised my parents growing up. In my pre-pubescent and adolescent mind, my parents were actually preventing me from the life I was meant to live. I was being stifled by their conservative views, their relentless lecturing and tireless advice.
How often did they have to say the phrase, ‘When you are older you will understand why….’ All I understood then at that very moment was that I was being denied the chance to do what I wanted to do and that was all that mattered.
I understood very well as a teenager why they lectured and tormented me to do my homework, do my chores, get ready for church, and on and on it continued every day of my long and torturous teenage life – because they hated me and I hated them.
In actuality, my parents loved me and my siblings more than we could ever comprehend as kids. It was my selfish, childish, foolhardy and insensitive nature that only saw my parents as restrictive, overbearing dictators. In truth, my parents were the most kind, tender-hearted, nurturing and caring people in my world and I often crushed them with my insolence and irreverence.
Looking back now I realize that all the times I thought they were trying to stifle my freedom, they were really trying to prevent me from venturing down a path of selfishness, greed and self-destruction. You don’t ever see that as a kid. I saw fun and thrills; they saw potential damage to body, spirit and mind. When I saw something appealing, they asked me to slow down, consider the repercussions and consequences.
Truthfully, I thought I hated them then but I was just another spoiled kid trying to manipulate my parents by being mean-spirited. And I went directly for the jugular because I wanted to hurt them in my anger. Despite all that, they loved me enough to save me from myself and for that, I love them more because of their diligence and devotion.
This week I heard a young man speak lovingly of his mother who died in a tragic accident. In his closing remarks he encouraged his peers to, “tell your parents you love them every day, because you never know when you’ll wake up and they’re not there anymore.”
Parents, it may seem as if your children hate you today, but love them even more now because one day they will look back, just as I often have and realize that what my parents said was as true then as it is today – One day they will understand.
I love you mom and dad. And yes, I understand!