A week ago I woke up to a text from my brother, letting me know that my dad had his fourth stroke, and was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.
Being in an ICU, surrounded by rooms filled with patients hooked up to IV drips, scary looking machines, and life basically slipping through their fingertips, puts a whole lot of things in perspective for a person. I feel so incredibly grateful that my dad will be okay and that my family has survived another heart-wrenching, life-changing moment in our lives. I have to admit, holding my dad’s hand and waiting for him to wake up made me think a lot about my relationship with my parents.
There really is nothing more complicated than a relationship between a parent and child. There are so many contributing factors that tie into this relationship and determine what makes it “good”. But what does a “good” relationship with your parents truly entail? It may vary, culture to culture, differ in several religions, and have different standards in different eras. I think the one universal factor is that parents want what they believe is best for their children, and children want to make their parents proud. Yes, I am generalizing with my hypothesis, but for the most part, I think I am right.
For me, being a first generation Asian American, but having parents that are “Americanized”, predisposed me to having a closer relationship with my parents. There was no language barrier between us and no cultural identity crisis. However, with my parents also being on the younger side of most of my friends’ parents (I am turning 25 this year and my dad is 51 and my mom is 50), there came a lot of struggles with my relationship with them. They knew all about the “bad” things in the world that a young impressionable girl could get into and I could not fool them for anything. I was caught every time I tried to sneak around; this included having a secret MySpace, having a boyfriend, wearing makeup, sneaking out of the house, underage drinking—you name it. There was no hiding anything from my parents, especially since they also got into trouble at a young age with their own parents.
Though I am proud to say that I have a close relationship with my mom and dad, it also has its downsides. Throughout the years, I have come to the acceptance that I truly am my parents’ daughter, and my personality often mirrors their combined best, and worst qualities. Our similar personalities often clash and we frustrate each other like no one else can even compare to. It seems ironic that I am so close to my parents, yet I still have these issues with them. Everyone has such strong personalities in my family; our views and values often collide at a million miles per hour and we are often left with damage from the wreckage (not talking, silent treatment, tears, etc.), for months. I know pretty much everyone can relate to not being able to stand being in the same room with your parents, but also feeling the sudden urge to just go back and rewind all hurtful words and actions that were said and done.
I remember a time that I was so angry with my dad that we did not speak for almost a year. It was not until my mom’s mother passed away that we spoke again, at my grandmother’s funeral. My dad gave a eulogy about that year being the hardest year for our family thus far and he broke down in tears whilst looking at me. I broke down in tears hearing his speech, knowing that despite our differences, we love the same way—with all of our hearts and through all our adversities. I thought back to this moment again when I was in the ICU with my dad . . .
At the end of the day, our parents ultimately act out of love and as their children, we try and navigate our own way to prove to them that everything they sacrificed for us was worth it. I know that each decision I make is not only for myself, but to eventually take care of my mom and dad, as they did for me growing up. No matter the circumstances, nothing will change the fact that without my parents, I would not be on this Earth today, and growing up being raised the way I did affected my character in more positive ways, than negative.
Whenever I have a disagreement with my parents, I often force myself to take a step back and envision an hourglass. An hourglass is an instrument for measuring time, with sand running from one invertible compartment to the other. For me, an hourglass represents that time is not everlasting; this is a blessing and a curse. The “bad” times are simply fleeting moments relative to our entire existence, and the “good” times quickly slip through our grasp faster than we realize. Before my dad’s stroke, I had recently got into a huge argument with my mom (and my dad by default because he defended my mom), but at the end of the day I know that my parents love me more than I could possibly imagine. Despite words that were said, I know that my mom and dad want what is best for me and want me to be the best possible version of myself. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to admit when your parents are right when you just want them to “understand” where you are coming from. But maybe my parents will never understand . . . and that’s okay.
At the end of the day, my parents have done so much more than just “understand” me. They provided me with the values and beliefs that define the person I am today, they gave me a roof over my head and put food on the table, they came to all of my Volleyball games in middle school, they attended every piano recital, they told me I was beautiful when I was an insecure and awkward teenager, they picked up my random phone calls and quietly listened in support when I have broken down due to life’s many struggles, they watched me walk across stage at my college graduation, and they continue to believe in me every single day—even when I doubt my own strengths and capabilities.
This post is my way of telling you to let your parents know you love them. And do it now, not later. Because whether you recognize it in this moment, or tomorrow, or a year from now, they have always loved you, more than you know. Like an hourglass, time is not everlasting. Learn to let the bad moments go and cherish the good times you have left.
Love you Mom and Dad.
P.S. Happy Birthday Mom.