By Melina Filippidou
When we talk about challenges and accomplishments we forget the biggest one: making a human being and giving them everything you have for the rest of your life. Continually putting someone else’s needs first, selflessly quitting your right to quit. Losing sleep and losing battles, running a race alone and still coming second.
I’ve been a daughter for 24 years and I hadn’t realized until recently that my parents are human beings too. I had never taken a break from pointing out their mistakes to think about how unfair and invalidating I was being by demanding superhuman parenting. Which on some level was indeed the case, because if having to deal with an angry and hormonal teenager after 8 or 9 hours of working isn’t superhuman, I don’t know what is.
Raising our parents might be the first task of our life that we absolutely fuck up. We viciously consume any popular psychology, 10-ways-your-mom-screwed-you-over kind of manipulative articles, so that we can make our own failures someone else’s responsibility. We decide that we are messed up and we engage in an outrageous marathon of judging and hurting for being judged and hurt, like proper first-world kids.
It all starts with our mistake of taking their sacrifices for granted. We believe that their having our future and well-being as a sole purpose is their duty as parents. They spend the biggest part of their lives reserving opportunities for us to find it easy later. They struggle so we can thrive. They plough so we can mow. And there’s no law saying they have to. My parents are the most effective strategists I’ll ever meet: they planned early enough every little detail so that no real-life scenario would find me or my brother unprepared. And they did so while I was going through my passive aggressive adolescence, locked up in my room, writing disturbing lines in my diary.
I think that for all sons and daughters self-awareness comes along with adulthood, that heartless jerk who knocks on our door right when things seem perfect to tell us that “no, they’re not”. Once we’re out there, facing reality’s cynicism, once it’s clear to us that life’s not a rainbow but a storm, that’s when we realize why our parents made us learn how to swim. Or any other metaphor that doesn’t say I belong in a Nickelodeon show.
Now that away from them, in London, wet but safe (according always to the metaphor) I often find myself thinking about all those moments that my mouth went faster that my head, causing pain to other people, even my loved ones, and I can’t help but making two fair conclusions; 1)kids may be mean, but teenagers are sometimes pure evil, and 2) if I ever decide that I want kids, I need someone reliable to slap me three times in the face and make me read my old diary.