At the start of writing this blog, I did a google search on this topic. And all Google came up with were search results on parenting guidelines. Did you think so too? Sigh… I happen to think that the transformation which happens as one becomes a parent is one among the easiest. Know why? You are sort of thrown into the arena of parenthood. Despite all your preparations. One minute you are an adult, the next minute you are a parent with this squirming bundle of humankind thrust into your arms. You learn to swim with this child who is suddenly dependent on you.
Still wondering what this blog is about? Like maybe some of you reading this, I’ve transitioned from being a child to an adult, to being a parent of a young child, to being the parent of a ‘soon-to-be adult’ (aren’t they steps ahead of you from the word go??) quite smoothly, with life’s many odd hiccups along the way (what would life be without them, I know now in hindsight…). However, what hit me on the raw quite recently was the transition of another relationship. I found myself quite unprepared for it. Churn, churn….still evolving…
I’ve always prided myself on having the perfect father-daughter relationship. Perfect???? Maybe not always, but loving nonetheless, incomparable - for me at least. Well, to be frank, I’ve always thought it perfect. I’ve loved the hugs, the reprimands, the understanding, the support…and it continues. In simple words, I adored being a child to my Dad. Of course, this relationship also meandered along with life, widening at places, narrowing at others, flowing past obstacles. However, one aspect remained unchanged. I was the child, my Dad the parent.
In my naivety, I thought it would remain unchanged. After all, it did remain unchanged with my Mom till she died. So what happened now? Age happened. Time waits for no one. And I was caught unprepared. Unprepared for a required shift in mind set. Mine, not my Dad’s. From being a ‘child to my Parent’ to being a ‘Parent to a Parent’ at times.
Convoluted? I think so too. Just imagine what these convolutions did to my mind. Angst, frustration – all because I wanted to be a child with the only person I could still be a child with, even at my age (Hmm…well, age I think is immaterial here). Did I want my parent to depend on me for decisions, minor though they may be? (And mind you, he is quiet independent still). No, I expected him to make decisions, be independent, like he always has been. In short, I expected him to remain unchanged. To be a parent for the rest of his life. What I got instead – a person slowing down and subtly desiring me to hand-hold him in certain decisions and at others standing firm on his.
Remember how wonderful it felt as a child to stomp a foot in frustration? There have been times of late when I wanted to do just that. Frustration…because I suddenly found that I needed to change and I, quite simply, did not want to. Remember a two-year-old child’s favourite word - No? Don’t I just love it. And like a child, I turned that angst (in my mind of course, as grown-ups would) towards the one person who was, is and always will be a child’s punching bag – my parent.
Till I introspected and realised (fortunately for us, in a very short while), that I was the one to still ‘grow up’ and evolve. I wanted my parent never to change and he didn’t. He still is my Dad and forever will be. The relationship never changes. However, what needed to change was my expectations from the relationship, which I’d expected to remain the same.
I am the one with the repertoire of internal resources and capacity to change behaviour. Can I change him? Never. Can I change myself? Certainly, my response patterns. And it finally seeped in me that change starts with me, flexibility lies with me. It was ok to be a parent to his inner child at times, and yet retain the magic of the child within. A balance of the polarities - child and parent. Inter-related, entwined, co-existing - either just waiting to be tapped. Its all in the mind. My perception. My mind. What a peaceful realisation. What say you? Ever felt similar?