This blog post comes from a recent (wonderful) conversation I was having with some of my cousins and I thought, why not share?
Being in Mexico is very conducive for reflecting. Plus houses here have balconies, the perfect place to sit back, sip away on some tea, and think away. So without further ado, here’s what’s been on my brain:
I don’t think I ever realized the importance of having a real relationship with my parents until I moved out in December. They were just, kinda always there. I didn’t have to think, “Ohh maybe I should call my mom today. Let me text my dad.”
And I’ll just be completely vulnerable here, I struggled hard and still struggle in having that relationship with my parents. I started to think about why it was so difficult for me. These are the people that raised me, gave birth to me, I am so many different parts of them, whyyyyy is this such a hurdle for me?
You just don’t understand me – this was my classic phrase that I’d throw at them or my inner thoughts when I tried to be intentional, but failed and ended up with a lecture. My mind would say, I mean, cmon. We come from different worlds. They have no idea what life is like for me, first generation college student who looks like she knows what she’s doing, but on the inside is screaming for help. They have no idea the pressures I’m under, the expectations to me this or be that. I remember having to fill out those annoying questionnaires about parents education and all that jazz, and always having to check off that neither finished more than middle school. Not that I’m embarrassed of this fact, on the contrary I am immensely proud of my parents because they are the most intelligent people I know, it just attested to the fact that I was growing up 180 degrees from them, and it was just hard to find common ground.
The language barrier – I love to brag about being able to speak another language, but every rose has its thorn. This was something I so resented. I love Spanish, but using English way more in my everyday life, its become the language I can best express myself in. Growing up, this really just got in the way of being able to connect with my parents in the way that I would have wanted to. I felt incapable of expressing how I truly felt at times, fumbling through words in Spanish that I knew, but weren’t the right ones. I’d look around and see my friends’ relationships with their parents and pinpricks of jealousy would stab my heart. They were just so open with their parents in a way I couldn’t be (or so I thought).
Culture factors – I think that just from the way my parents were raised, so many things fell through the cracks. They weren’t raised to show emotion, particularly my father. And I knew they both loved me, but given that my dad is not a man of many words or really physical affection, when my dad hugged me, it was like I had won the lottery. Looking back on my childhood, moments like that with my father are some of the fondest memories I have. And my parents are such loving people, I am not meaning to criticize them in any way, but that invisible wall was there. It was there through the stories my dad would tell, and still tells, of how harsh and sometimes abusive his father was with him. And if, at almost 50 years old (sorry dad) he still talks about it with so much emotion, how could I not see that that molded him in a way? Only at this age am I able to start to piece together how experiences leave their imprints on the way we act.
It’s easy to give up and retreat inward. It’s easy to quit. It’s easy to stop putting forth effort. But we are not made for complacency. We are made to constantly strive for growth. And I think really that only through the grace that God has been pouring out in my heart these last few months have I come to realize that all those reasons I had been telling myself as to why I couldn’t have the relationship with my parents that I desired were a big fat lie.
Satan seeks to destroy relationship because that’s why we were created. I was letting myself put some of the most important relationships in my life on the back burner. I didn’t wanna seem like the girl who “always hangs out with her mom” (so foolish I know, praise to Jesus that He’s started to clean my brain up of these notions). First, I had to admit just how weak I was and how much help I needed in this endeavor, and then say Jesus, wow. I just really need you to enter into this struggle. I wanna love my parents like they deserved to be loved and just have better communication. I crave authentic relationship. I didn’t want my parents to have a false version of who I was. Do you ever see people who are a version of themselves when they’re with others, and then another when they’re with their parents? Yeah. I didn’t want that.
So here I am at 21 years of age, learning how to make my parents some of my best friends. And all I can say is that it’s so worth it. It might be awkward at times. And a little uncomfortable, but they are really awesome people. Don’t take these relationships for granted. Be intentional with your parents. And by goodness communicate with them. If there is a piece of advice I could give my younger self it would be that. One of our parish priests used to say, “without communication, there can be no relationship.” So true.