Trying to be a better person

The operative word here being, ‘trying’.

We all talk about being better people, but I’m not sure how that works. In fact I find it hard to make that general ‘better person’ cut and what works for me is picking up a facet of my life and working on it. Wife, mother, sister, friend, employee…

I am not much of an employee because work features at the bottom of my list. I deliver on time and as promised and maybe a little more than promised, but that’s about it. On the other hand, I try everyday to be a better wife to the OA. Not by cooking or cleaning or whatever else one might expect from 90% of wives across the world. But by trying to be a more understanding wife. Giving him more space, more time, more energy and more encouragement to be the person he wants to be. I try to be a better mother to the kids by doing as much as I can for them without smothering, guiding without leading and so on. Let me hasten to assure you that I don’t think I’m excelling at either, but that I am always trying, always eager to work on them and often aware of where I am failing.

But the one relationship I realise I haven’t worked on as much as I should, is the relationship with my parents.

Born to them, you grow up taking them for granted. If you’ve always been snappy and short tempered with them, if you’ve always been the indulged, whiny one, if you’ve always got what you asked for, if they’ve always stepped in when you need something, you continue in the same vein. How many of us make an effort to improve our relationship with our parents?

How many of us have begun to indulge them? I think back on my last post on parents and the pressure on them where so many people responded that it is unfair to expect people to give up their lives abroad and move back to a country where their ageing parents are comfortable. Very true. All expectations are unfair. And yet we so often do sacrifice for our kids. I look upon our move to Gurgaon as the worst thing to have happened to me, simply because I have no choice in this matter. I WILL give my children the education I think they deserve, even if it kills me. So why then are we never so generous with those who spent a lifetime doing stuff for us? I don’t say you should give in to unreasonable demands (heck, I say you should never give in to demands, reasonable or unreasonable – now requests, they’re a different matter). But I do believe that as children ourselves, we rarely stop to consider our parents and their desires and wishes and hopes and dreams.

We all carry baggage and so do they. My relationship with the Bean is a very easy one. We are so alike that I just need to look at her to figure out which bit of mischief she is getting up to. With the Brat though, I am usually reaching for a cyanide pill. He is nothing like either of us and parenting him is a challenge. Every choice we make, is an effort. Every time he does something the OA and I have to count to ten so as to not lose our cool. Without doubt, he is the child that challenges us and I can only see this getting worse as he grows. Inspite of being the cutest, friendliest, more adorable toddler, he is an introvert who has his own ideas, is uncommunicative and moody and unbelievably stubborn. Naturally this means we cannot parent him in the same way we do the Bean. That we don’t have the same easy relationship but a more careful, calculated method of parenting. We’re constantly thinking – ‘Will this upset the Brat? Do you think he’ll agree to do this?  Have you noticed him do X – do you think he now needs Y?’ It puts a huge strain on us as parents and often we’re drained with the effort because the easiest thing to do would be to just shake him up and the collapse.

And that makes me realise how tough it must have been for my mother to parent me. I am the exact opposite of her. So much my father’s daughter. So hard for her to have two of us hot headed types to handle. So unlike her in temperament and so much of an effort to understand. Even today we’re careful about what we say to each other and not to hurt each others’ feelings. My dad on the other hand, tells it like it is and I feel free to repay him in the same currency. Secure in the knowledge that he will forget by night, as will I. My mother, I know will nurse the hurt and recall it years later.

In the last few years I’ve begun to try but even I have to admit that I am not good at it. Some time during my pregnancy with the Bean my relationship with my parents reached its lowest ebb and I was shouting, banging doors and fighting with them. I was going through certain problems and felt that they weren’t being supportive enough. Four years down I’m trying harder. Even a few days ago my father and I had a showdown but this time I merely called him *koff koff* ‘mean and unsupportive.’ Yes, I can be  childish when I want. But we both stalked off,  cooled off and came back bathed and calmer. I laid out some snacks and the evening tea and then we looked at each other, grinned and put our arms out for a hug. I sat in his lap (did I mention childish?) and we made up. It might take time but I realise that like all relationships, we need to work on the one with our parents too.

With Ma, I now try to say my words in my head before they spill out of my mouth to leave a scar that won’t go away. Mostly though, I am trying to stop thinking of it as my sovereign right to take them for granted. To stop saying, ‘But I am their daughter and have always been this way; they should have learnt to deal with it by now. But I am their daughter and they owe me this.’ I have to admit it doesn’t come easy.

At this point I must also admit that working on a relationship with your parents after you become a parent yourself is even harder. Everything begins to sound judgmental. If Ma says, ‘You should have done XYZ with the kids,’ I am most likely to turn around and snap, ‘Why? you didn’t do it for us.’ Not only do I end up feeling judged, I take a potshot at their parenting too. It’s not deliberate, but it is the instinctive reaction to being criticised. To hit out at the other and point out where they failed you. And everyone knows, the only people who can tell you where you went wrong in your parenting, are your children. I am so often carried away by my vile tongue that I am ashamed of myself. Yes, maybe they made some mistakes, but they were young and did the best they could. And while it’s okay to blame your parents for certain things in life, it is also time, that at 30, I take responsibility for the person I am and the things I say.

A small example is the way I trash my mother’s taste in clothes mercilessly – What is that crap, Ma? Are you planning on going out in public dressed like that? Because junta will just run for cover when they see that tee shirt.

She holds her tongue and either quietly submits to my better judgment or ignores me. The one thing she doesn’t deny is that I am always right. The one thing I can never forget is that I get my taste from her. Every choice in cotton sarees or crisp chikan kurtas with huge red bindis is one I learned from her and then fine tuned. But what I am yet to learn is to be nice while I go about it. Because the honest truth is that she looks awesome – I just want her to look better.  And so I have now begun to shop for her when I see something that would look good on her, regardless of whether I can afford it or not. I’m busy getting her packed for a family wedding in Australia later in the year. I was supposed to have attended but no passport yet and so I am deriving my joy from planning her sarees for the various dinners and parties. Knowing that she likes the clothes I choose for her, I’m doing this the other way around. Holding my tongue and simply buying what I think will suit her.

With dad, I’m just learning to hold my tongue. Period. At other times if we’re arguing over how much television the kids should be allowed, I simply find an article that illustrates my point and leave it on his bed. One evening he came up to me twice and said, ‘You’re right and I was wrong. I apologise.’ I almost collapsed in shock. But if he can do it, so can I.

We’re learning. It’s not easy as adults to re-work our relationship. To put aside our emotional baggage and treat each other with the respect due to another adult. And yet, even here, as I struggle to improve my relationship with them, I realise that I am only able to do it with their help and cooperation.

What are you working on today?

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117 thoughts on “Trying to be a better person

  1. I wish there was a ‘like’ button on this post.

    I say the cruelest, meanest things to my mum, and I hate myself for that. I can see the hurt in her eyes. I am a horrible, horrible person.

    Dad and I … Well we just stomp out on each other and vow to never speak again. It’s better this way. I wish mum was as open.

  2. Relationship with parents is the most ignored one. It’s so true. I try to ge a good mom to our kids and work hard on improving as a mom. But daughter/DIL — naah! I expect my parents/ILs to work hard there. I hardly meet either’s expectations. But I wonder if I have to. They are emotional people who nurse their hurts. That stops me from being frank. But I want to be me. As a result the relationship has become distant and formal.
    Sometimes I do feel extremely sad at the state of our relationship. And I wonder if I’ll be able to live with it if the same happens between me and kids. But it seems to be a deadlock and I have no solutions.

    • So if you’ve figured out that they’re emotional people, can you twist that around to your advantage? Find a way where you can make that a positive thing? Don’t let it turn into a deadlock. Life is so short…

      • Maybe I can. But I am not so emotional and it takes a huge amount of effort from my side to set things right. With time I am refusing to make that effort. More so, after I have become a parent myself. Because I feel that they have to be parents to the person I am and to the person they expect me to be. I am sorry that I am not the kind of daughter they would have liked to have. But here I am. Deal with it!

        • Sure.. I understand where you’re coming from. Yes, everyone must accept their children for the people they are. We are doing that with our kids aren’t we?

          But this is less about being their daughter and more about being an adult who wants to build a relationship with another adult. There is no real fixed method – you need to chart your own course. I don’t think you are not emotional. I think you might not be expressive. That doesnt mean you don’t feel it inside you, right? Think about it….

          • You are right. Expressive is the right word. But I really cannot talk all that mush mush. Or cry easily for that matter. Or create an emotional scene and bring everyone to tears. I am more like man (at the risk of gender stereotyping) in emotional circumstances and that does not work too well with me. But yes, I guess I should not let go.

  3. I had forgotten about trying to be a better person – thanks for reminding me. I need to work on all areas – I think I’m ok on mother and friend, but as a wife and daughter, work is definitely needed.

  4. I so understand this and realise it every year I get older. The angst, the tantrums, the hurt *I* felt when living with my parents meant it was all about me. Moving out, growing older and having distance has given me perspective to see and slowly understand that parenting me would have been, to put it mildly, a frickin nightmare.

    I have a bit of both of my parents and unfortunately probably the worst in them. They still see me as their little Gudia and everytime I try…and WANT to repair and grow that relationship, I regress to that sullen teenager and young adult and shut them out. Defense mechansim perhaps, but it’s become a habit.

    My little brother, 12 years younger than me, a teenager now, has so much of me in him, that I almost feel sorry for my him and poor parents (now that I’ve gone through it :P). I try to be impartial there and keep out of it, because I would have hoped they might have learnt with me and I counsel my brother to not make the same mistakes I did, so that both can emerge with at least their relationship somewhat intact.

    • You want nightmare? You should have me as your kid 😀
      Funny, but check comments and you will see that we all claim to have the worst of both our parents. Makes me wonder why we also have a such a low opinion of ourselves.

  5. So so true MM. I always have this ‘you neglected the eldest child – me’ attitude with my parents and always have arguements that they dont really do enough for me… And Dad and me are alike to – we both fester the words said and bring them back (Yes, even years later) and can continue to fight on that! Because of this I’ve hurt and shocked mum plenty of times and No – I rarely apologise either… Sometimes I feel let down because I CANT take them for granted and they just brush it aside and continue to do what they want to…
    Maybe this is one relationship that we want to take for granted – That they HAVE to be there for me all the time?

    • See, most parents WILL be there. And so will a child unless they’re a rare breed. What we’re trying to achieve, I hope, is being there happily and peacefully. It doesn’t come easy, does it?

  6. This is so weird. I actually had such a massive fight with my parents over the weekend & I have been thinking about our relationship in the same manner.

    My relationship with my dad is like the one with ur mom.. He will nurse his hurt over years and then, pick me at my weakest and aim that hurtful comment back at me. With my mother, as kids she would spank us and as adults tell us as it is. While we are both short-tempered, we just ignore each other for some time and then say, u do what you want & I’ll do what I want.

    But now that I’m married, I find it very hard to create a sort of behavior or mood with the DH. Because the DH is C.A.L.M. He is like a surgeon, he can deal with every situation in a rationale & logical manner which I truly appreciate. But in the heat of anger, I just want him to retaliate or I want him to remember what nasty thing I said ages ago. He does neither.

    All this makes me think, if I am only carrying the worse of my parents with me. The temper & the vengence. I wish I could carry the good things like the unbelievable generosity (which nearly brought us to the streets!), the great house-keeping, the amazing cooking, the love for all creatures, the concern for the help and the taking care of the neighbor kids.

    And my biggest worry is being the product of this bad behavior when I become a parent.

    Such a long, pointless comment. Sorry!

    • Why is it pointless? 🙂 You’re sorting out your head and we are standing around, trying to be helpful 😉
      Seriously though – don’t think as far as being a parent. Start with being a child. Things get so complicated when you’re a parent yourself. Today if my mother tells me to be patient with the Brat, my instinct is to lash out. One, because I don’t like my parenting being criticised, two, because I want to tell her she could have been a better parent too.

      So don’t wait. If you’re aware of what you’re doing wrong, start rectifying now?
      hugs

  7. I know what you mean. It hit me when I went thru some crap a few years back and only my parents and brother stood by me and were there despite all their misgivings and hurt. Two kids later I realise how tough it must’ve been for them and it made me feel like crap for earlier transgressions. I started making a genuine effort to well.. initially it was the guilt factor that prodded it – an effort to make up.. but now.. i think it has more to do with just treasuring them

  8. My temper! Things had become so bad that I had this constant knot in my chest. I wanted to explode. And I dont think it was pregnancy hormones.It took me a while to realise and then some more to understand the damage it did. I am only too happy to say things are better now.
    🙂

  9. Your post is soo timely… 🙂

    Since Mom’s passing, dad stays me every 2-3 months. And he isn’t demanding in the usual ways (like being left alone or wanting something specific). I worked out a meal plan he likes best, manage to give him the stuff he likes with the cook’s help. And guess what – that’s all he really needs.

    And yet, I get soo worked up with the dirty dishes in his room, the light left on in the bathroom, the wet towel on the bed, and the messy bathroom every day evening! I can raise hell about it. Ok, HAVE raised hell about… Though, this past week I am trying my best to just shut up. I get home, keep my trap shut till all these things are addressed, and then I sit to chat with him…

    and you know the most painful bit? He’s developed a hearing problem recently and I find it very difficult to talk to him. For the person I am, one would expect me to be patient, huh? Apparently, that’;s not how this works.

    And yes, it’s a darn slow path of self restraint, but am glad I have the sense now than later. 🙂

    • 😦 I’m sorry Uncle has developed a hearing problem. What is the solution? Medical options available?
      BUT don’t beat yourself up about it. You might be better equipped than most to understand and deal with it – but you’re still the tired, hard working executive coming home to housework and a parent who needs care. I have seen so many older people pass through our home and head off to the happy hunting grounds and each time I wish I had been a little more gentle with them.
      hugs babe. I hope to see you soon.

  10. MM,

    As a wife, I am in one of the most satisfying and secured relationships that can exist. The best thing I have learnt from this relationship is ‘communication’. We do not take our disagreements to bed. No matter whose ‘fault’ it is, one of us always breaks the ice.

    As a Daughter, I am just like my father. He is quiet, patient, responsible, never ever reacts with hurtful comments, committed to his family and work and loves his wife. Although I must admit both of us dwell on pointed silence. It drives my mum and sis mad when we shut ourselves down each time we are hurt or angry. But with me, he always always gives a patient ear which I am grateful for.

    As a first born to my mother, we simply do not get along. My mother is talkative, friendly, extroverted, an amazing home maker and a brilliant cook. It amazes me how my dad (who is just like me) gets along with her like a house on fire and I don’t.
    Each time she judges my behaviour or dressing style or any such trivial thing, I get angry and react in the heat of the moment. Later in my silence, I observe my behaviour and regret my words or feel terrible about myself.

    After many long conversations with Dad and Hubby (who are one of the most secure men one can meet) I have realised hurtful comments generate out of self loathe. People with giant temper or loud voice or menacing demeanour are weak and emotionally dependant. They yell at people who do not abide by their needs. Many times I have noticed in my father, nothing seems to break him. Even when his grandmother died in front of his eyes, there were no tears but a quiet acceptance. I idolize my father, his nature, his character and often need his valuable insights on life. Mind you, he is never the one to ‘advise’ but simply guide.

    I want to improve my relationship with my mother. I am trying. I bite my tongue each time she speaks hurtful words. The other day when she was continuously finding fault in me, I bluntly but politely reminded her that she had another 20yrs in hand and not ruin this time by hurting her daughter. That stunned her into silence. I am not proud of what I said but that has made her less judgemental towards me.

    I am also at a stage in my life where I am able to detach myself from negativity.

    Thankyou for the post.

    • May I beg to differ? People with a hot temper and a loud voice are just passionate people. Neither weak nor emotionally dependent, they are simply people who live life larger – sing louder in the shower, laugh more, and similarly shout louder too.

      They find it hard to understand people who don’t raise their voice in praise or criticism. They don’t understand people who don’t shed tears and come across as emotionally stunted and uncommunicative.

      People from both sides need to understand how the other side expresses themselves and find a common ground. The OA is quiet, I rage like a storm. But his tempers last for days while mine run out in an hour. I could call him a sulker who nurses a grudge. But the truth is that he is he.. and I am me and we need to work it out together.

      You idolise your father because you are like him. Just as I idolise my father and his hot head and easy forgiveness because I am like him. We both need to work on our relationships with our mothers as we would any other friend or colleague, and not let emotional baggage stunt the development… all the best to you and to me.

      • MM,

        Don’t you think it takes immense inner strength to not retaliate with hurtful words? Please do not come into conclusion that quiet people hold grudges. Just like how your temper runs out in an hour, my father forgives in an hour too.

        ‘Loud people have emotions and quiet people don’t’- isn’t that clearly a stereotype? I have seen many people rush to my father for investment advise or for any kind of emergencies. If he were to be emotionally stunted he should have been a loner, which he clearly isn’t. He might not want the whole world to know him singing in the shower but many a times I have caught him humming a tune to himself.

        You mentioned OA sulking for days. I’d call that passionate and communicative. He must deeply love a person to allow that person to hurt him.

        Of course, it is always each to his own. But a hurtful word aimed at a loved one might turn to regret or pain if the other person dies before the hour is up. Maybe quiet people are selfless that way.

        People who are loud and passionate are equally entertaining and unselfish. I’d love to have a friend who is enthusiastic. I’d also love that one friend with whom I need not speak a word to the whole time yet be comfortable in her presence.

        Peace.

        • Actually I think it takes immense strength to be in a conflict and come out of it still loving each other. I object to the notion that people who show their anger are emotionally weak or dependent. You just drew a stereotype in your comment about people who express anger and I only wanted to show you what a stereotype feels like. People express themselves differently and associating that with negative emotions is the first mistake we make. Expressing anger is healthy if done within limits. Break a cup and feel better. Studies show that people who contain their rage suffer from all sorts of emotional and health problems. Neither extreme is a healthy one and both sides need to work on it. The quiet ones on expressing themselves so that they don’t frustrate their more vocal partners. Loud ones on calming down so that they don’t upset their partners.

          I could call quiet people cold or emotionally stunted, but I’d be doing them a disservice and not getting any further down the path of understanding or peace. I don’t know your father or you so I can’t comment on you personally.

          The OA sulking – I dont think its great love, I think its immature. Matters should be settled before you go to to bed. Holding grudges is childish and immature and I refuse to dignify negative emotions like jealousy, possessiveness and sulking with something as positive as love. If you love, you try to work things out in a loud or quiet way. Not hold it quietly within your heart. Maybe you dad forgives in an hour. But most non-confrontational people in my experience have been the kind who don’t forgive or forget.

          I also grinned at the quiet people being selfless stereotype. Quiet people are merely quiet – that doesn’t translate into anything negative or positive. There are criminals who could be quiet, people of few words. And saints who could be loud and joyful.

          As for hurting people -do you think you can only hurt people by shouting? Have you never seen people cut others to pieces with a quiet hurtful line? I think we all have something to think about.

          And yes, peace.

  11. Well mine is different.. I am trying to be a better friend.. Few months back I discovered a part that she thought no one would notice and judged her heavily and she ended up being embarrassed.. We tried to talk it out but it became more and more weird and uncomfortable.. Just to not let the strings detach both would ping each other ‘Hey wassup’ and talk about dinner or lunch or rating in office… But whatever that we were was lost.. the past months I have been spending missing her.. I am known to quietly suffer and move away.. not confront and try to work things out.. But I guess I had the brush with real friendship only now and jus could not move away.. So I realized that I have to stop judging her and let her be.. Coz she means more than a spat over a weekend went wrong.. Over the weekend we tried our dialogue again.. it seemed to work 🙂 and have resolved to put in the required efforts on both sides till the tide starts flowing ceaselessly as before.. I am trying to be a better friend..

    • Good for you that you managed to do that. I have seen many friendships drift into nothingness because no one took the first step. I’m a fairly decent friend. I just think I am spread too thin. Too many new connections over the blog, too many work related relationships, too many old friends resurrected thanks to FB and not enough time or gumption to say no to people when I am out of space and energy.

      • I know what you mean.. For a long time in life I was too thinly spread with no one good friendship to talk home about.. And well learnt that depth is more important than breadth.. Coz though I had many friends at a point.. with no one could I speak about my problems or even happiness..

      • How i love your way with words, this is the first time i’ve heard that phrase ‘spread too thin’ among friends, conveys it so simply well.
        And, Sakthi’s account sounds so similar to what i did a couple of years back. I’m so glad that i realised the value of that friendship in my life, did not let it go for a weekend gone wrong. I hold the friend so close, and i’m so happy that he is still part of my life just like he used to be, maybe even stronger. I’ve thanked myself for it a lot of times 🙂

  12. any relationship becomes turmoil – for long or for short period – when I, me, myself get over We, us and ourselves and its human nature to think of one before others. The good part is that longer the relationship is entrenched , the earlier we think about making up and setting things right. But there are enough relationships in life, we dont even make an effort. Wrote about someone I knew and her perspective on relationships and found how true it is- all we need is a new perspective http://betweenworkandhome.blogspot.com/2011/03/letting-go-of-relationship-other-side.html

  13. babe, this struck a chord with me. like you, i am always ‘trying’ to be a better person. whether i have or am becoming one is a different story altogether.

    my folks are with me now. dad is 83, mum 75 with their health issues and limitations. mum and i never got along-we share a superficial relationship and our fights are bitter, even now, although i have gotten much better in avoiding confrontations with her. she is losing her memory rather quickly and needs constant care and supervision-something she doesnt realize at this point. her extent of detoriation has finally dawned on me and the future looks bleak. i blogged about it-my way of wrapping my head around it.
    (http://sukanyabora.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/fighting-the-inevitable/)
    to get mad at her is easy-she is a stubborn, adamant person and her memory loss is turning her into a much more difficult individual. i am trying to be sensitive to her condition, accepting it is difficult for she has had a very successful life, was a trail blazer of sorts.
    her condition accentuates her flaws and its hard not to get bogged down by them, something i am struggling with now. i have become her ‘nurse’-helping her with her baths and meals. i am stretching myself thin running a household, mothering two kids, holding down a full time job and looking after her- its been tough but the other day i realized how much i enjoy taking care of her. i really do. i am her daughter after all…if i dont who will. frustration, impatience and anger aside, i owe it to her. we may have had a rough ride, but she is who she is, my mother, the person who raised me.
    thanks babe-its important we all think about how we can better ourselves and our relationships with people who matter to us.
    sorry for the long comment!

    • Bless you Suk. I can’t imagine how hard it is for you. We lost my grandmother and her aunt to Alzheimer’s. It runs in my family and I might get it someday. But I saw them being nursed in our old family home with ten people and a fulltime nurse. I don’t know how you’re managing this alone. God give you the strength you need and the blessings you deserve.

      • i too worry that i will inherit it someday. my paternal grandmom had alzhiemer’s too and she got a raw deal.
        its been tough managing everything but its doable. there are with me only for a couple of months. i am not sure how dad will manage once they return. we are exploring options at this point and i hope we find something that works for all. it is such a debilitating condition-and the caregivers suffer much more than the person who has it. Thanks S.

  14. Sigh. Better mum to # 1. Someday I will learn to ignore the raging fit and pay her back with a hug at first pass, instead of a sarcastic jibe. 😦 Someday.

    As a daughter, I am doing ok. I have learned to treat them as people instead of just my parents and that helps. Altho’ I do the “But you did it to ME…” thing to my mum and she just responds with “So I made a mistake, why do you want to do the same thing to your child?” Well, whaddaya say to that?

  15. My mom called to tell me that I’m being “selfish” and “heartless” as I’m still single. She says she has hopes and dreams for ME to be married, and that she can’t get out of the house and face people as the shame of having an unmarried daughter is too much to bear.
    I could be wrong, but I think you have it easier. 🙂

    • LOL! in this case, i think she doesnt realise that she is hurting you. When I talk about bettering a relationship, then I mean both sides must work at it, as my last line said. What did you say to her when she called you selfish? At that moment I’d have gone red with rage, but maybe you can cool down and talk to her later?

      • It used to upset me in the beginning, but now I’m used to this. No matter how many times I explain to her, she doesn’t understand. I’ve changed my mum’s ringtone to “Numb” by Linkin Park.
        Pretty self-explanatory wouldn’t u say?

    • Happened with my grandmother.. who called my mother and told her that she cant step out of the house because of me.. I stopped calling her anymore.. expect that last week she fell down and broke her hands and well I forgot her words for that instant and called her.. Same thing she doesnt realise how much that hurts me.. Its simply her way of pointing out to my mom that she is irresponsible and doesnt care abt the daughter going wild @#$(&@(!!..

  16. reading this gave me a lump in my throat. i miss my dad. if he was alive today, i’d have been a better daughter than i was in his lifetime. that taught me a lesson, to spend more time with my mom and be a better daughter. sure it slips at times and i snap here and there…. mostly its a lesson learnt well… am so glad you have the courage to say you are trying to be better… most of us are lost in the illusion that we think we are perfect and doing the right thing all the time with our parents…

    • oh i have no illusions about my failings. my tongue runs away with me as does my temper. But I know that is a flaw and I work at it all the time. i get knocked down, but I get up again!

  17. I have always taken my parents for granted. I stay in US, once, I had a huge fight with my mom and said some really cruel things (one fo them being that she loves my younger sis more) and hung up. Then, I read a blog post from a fellow blogger, who shared a post about losing her mother and missing out on a chance to apologize for some misunderstanding that she had a week ago, it hit me so bad! I called up my mom immediately and apologized, it was 1 am there. Mom was like “it is ok chinna, you can only be like this with your own mom no?”. Sorry for the long comment.

  18. My mother is a lot like yours, while she is extremely positive and strong most of the time, she can be an emotional wreck sometime, especially when she is dwelling on something that happened in the past.
    I can never stop feeling guilty about being not a good enough daughter to my parents despite everything that I do end up doing for them. A few years ago when she was first diagnosed with cancer, our roles were reversed. I was the one trying to provide care and look after my mother’s physical and emotional needs. And she was a child all over again, very dependent on me emotionally and physically to an extent. And you know what, I hated this role reversal. I hated having to grow up overnight and be the brave one all the time and so in turn, I would sometimes lose my temper with her. And then I would end up feeling so terribly guilty about it later on. The irony is that my mom and I have been like this all along, losing our tempers at each other but making up soon after we are done with the screaming match. But somehow, it does not feel right any more.
    Gosh, am I even making sense here?!

  19. Oh damn. Now, I have to think before I talk to my parents too ? 😦 Yeh tumne kya kiya MM !!!

    I’ll tell you something weird and interesting. From adolescence till today, my mom has had to bear the brunt of my mood swings, very caustic tongue, extreme stubbornness, and she not only handles it with ease, she took a quiet pride in knowing her daughter would share the deepest secrets, hurts, confusions only with her. Dad, was the very “Amrish Puri” type, and hence I only showed him the submissive, tender, goody goody side of me 😉 , and it was all fine by him.

    Now that I try to balance my act, my mom gets upset, that I am holding back my anger or pretending to be happy in front of her, and the dad is forever complaining that his daughter toh never speaks to him only. Every time I am calm, and end a conversation without banging the phone, mom will invariably worry “kuch to baat hai, she is hiding from us”

    Bachao!! 😦

  20. Wow…how do you pick these topics?! This one really resonated. In my case, I lost my mum when I was very young – my dad raised my brothers and I – all of us siblings were very close to dad – boy! talk about being hotheaded and mouthing things off – my dad is still the most hotheaded person I have EVER met ! Everyone around dad were scared of his outspokenness except the three of us – he allowed only the three of us to get away with so much – he would say it too that ‘only the three of you can talk to me like this’ etc. He was as solid as a rock for the three of us and we would as adults too behave like overgrown kids around him i.e. expect him to understand and be there for us regardless simply because ‘he is dad and he is strong and he’s always done this for us’. Not that he ever complained about it but I slowly came to this same realization that you did and started being more mellow with him – I would talk to him almost everyday (I live in the US and he lived in India). An year and a half into this and our relationship was closer than ever – I got that dreaded phone call one winter evening that he had suddenly passed on. All I can tell you is that loss – especially if it is sudden loss amplifies all the regrets – but the thing that gave me a lot of peace was that last year and a half where we finally told each other all the nice things that we would never have thought to say earlier on in our relationship. It has happened with a lot of my friends too – where suddenly you realize that your parents are older and emotionally more vulnerable than they used to be…the mellowing helps and forges a different way of relating to each other.

    I wish you luck with forging a mellower form of communication with your parents – in my experience it is very worth the effort. Also, I know you do, but definitely cherish it because the one thing I miss a lot is that unconditional love where I could be short or snap at my dad with the smug knowledge that I was the child and it was my right to say and do as I please with him…that is hard because no one can replace a parent’s unconditional presence. I am getting all misty and teary now so will sign off!

    Have a good week…

    • I got misty and teary too just reading your comment. I am so sorry about your dad. I know that nothing can ever replace a parents constant and unshakable love. Your comment about forging a mellower communication certainly resonated with me and I am going to try really hard at achieving it.

  21. Wow MM, you’re such a cool person to try to do that! For years I’ve agonized over how my parents and I don’t express love to each other. We’ve never said “I love you” or apologized or hugged (actually they do hug me, but I only hug them BACK). This, in spite of the fact that my relationship with them right now is the best it’s ever been. I’ve gotten over all the ways in which their (abusive) parenting hurt me and just started looking at/thinking of them as people instead of parents. But….I just find myself stuck when it comes to expressing affection. With OTHER PEOPLE I have no problem!

    • Okay, may I ask how old you are? I’m no one to give advice but at thirty plus I feel half my life is over. If I don’t work my way out of an abusive relationship (not my parents, but others) then no one else is going to do it. So I evaluate and see – do I want to be in a relationship with this person? If I don’t, I cut strings and move on. If I do, I make the effort and try and drop ego and see what can help. Often the power equation in a parent child relationship is skewed. As an adult and mother I feel it’s time to right that balance. I am an equal, an adult, a parent too. I have to make way for their idiosyncrasies and forgive them and myself. I have to take charge and do what is going to help the relationship without putting the entire onus on them. This is all very well in theory. In practice I find it hard too. I wish you luck. I know we all need it.

      Baby steps might be the answer. Why not shock the life out of them by initiating the hug the next time you see them?

      Jadoo ki jhappi 🙂

      • Turning 30 soon!!!

        Thanks MM, that’s great advice. The relationship w/ them is not abusive any more (hasn’t been for a while now). They’ve accepted me as an adult and as an individual, and I’ve for the most part forgotten about the abuse (as in I still remember it happened, but I don’t feel any pain when I think of it). The NEW relationship I share w/ them is free from all that baggage I carried throughout my teen years.

        I was surprised to find out – only a few years ago – that what I feel for them is very much……..LOVE! I’m just too embarrassed or whatever to express it. Lord, help me! I know they KNOW it – through other gestures – but I’ve never said those three words to them. Heck, my mom has only ever said them to my dad ONCE. “Zyaada kehne se unki VALUE kam ho jaati hai.”

        I’ll try, but……what if they make fun of me?

        • I doubt they’ll make fun of you. They might tease you. A lot of people are so uncomfortable expressing love that they tend to make light of it.

          The OA is like that. I remember when the Brat was born, he wouldn’t say he loved him. he was changing diapers and waking nights, and lying near his new born and looking at him with something akin to awe in his eyes. But not a loving word escaped those lips. I kept encouraging him to tell his son now that he loved him so that he got into the habit and it would come out of his mouth easily when they were teens. But he refused. And then one day I was bathing and I turned off the water and realised he was talking to him in our bedroom.. and going on saying, I love you my son, I love you…

          Now too he makes a joke if I remind him its been a while since he told his kids he loves them. He says it easily to the Bean, with the Brat, it becomes a man thing and he can’t. Similarly, I think parents of that generation didnt express themselves. Maybe its for us to come up behind them, hug them tight, say I love you.. and walk off before either side gets a chance to get embarrassed or make light of it. Work for you? Or should we think of something else? 🙂

          • After 16 months of his son’s birth, my half drunk husband was full of love for his son….while I was driving us all back home. Was nice to see him say that. And, I think he just broke the ice there…heard him repeat that a couple of times after that day. With our daughter, it has been so easy…..There is really this man-thing isn’t it!!! 😛

            • It so is! Men are just taught to be all manly. It’s why it is such a challenge to get the OA to say it to me too. For every 15 times I say it, he might say it back once in a return.

          • The reply thing wouldnt appear for your comment below ….and I’m replying to your response on my comment below.

            Small diff there…I find it hard to say ‘I love you’ to my husband – i say once for every 5 times he says. And I know why I dont tell him that —- cos I have a lot of issues to sort out on the mundane things like keeping things in place, being a more organized person, attending to his alarm in the morning (I cant do it every single day, can I?)…and such. I’m generally pissed on these small things, that I am trying to look past that and value him for the person he is which initially got us together. Its a post in itself and I could just rant away to glory!

          • It does, it does! Thank you!! When did you become this zen ice-queen (in a good way) kind of person? When I first started reading your blog, you came across as this fiery, passionate woman. (Also in a good way…..but how can you be capable of both?)

            • 🙂 Depends on what the issue is. I am still fiery on issues that matter – ask my trolls. I think its more a sign of learning to control my writing. Being fiery is nice, but many idiots miss the point because they’re too busy getting offended at my right to be fiery. Or maybe it is a sign of me growing up? It’s been five years and I went from confused mother of newborn brat to zen mother of two.

  22. MM,I have been following your blog for more than a year and there are so many topics you write which i can related to.I have 2 kids like you, boy and girl,2 years apart.The 1st one was born pre-term.My parents live very far away from us and could not come till 1 week post delivery.Infact I had to put up a big fight ,over the phone,with my Mom 1 day after delivery in the hospital room to push her into coming the next week.For the 2nd one ,i needed bed rest for medical reasons and they have chosen to come 3 months after the delivery.Their own reasons,their choices.I did not fight this time.I was hurt .I am still very hurt.I was lonely,felt neglected and tears well up everytime i think about this.I am very Thankful and blessed for my life,but this one place i lucked out.I am unable to come to terms how my mother chose NOT to be by my side when I needed her the most to be with me. I am working on nursing my heart….

    • V, I hope you are finding peace. This was an improbable situation for me, till I came to know of someone who went through this. Her mom didn’t come to stay with her during her 9th month, when her husband had to go abroad to keep his first job….all becasue, she married the guy against her mom’s wish. I wondered, what kind of mom deserts a pregnant daughter. Well, I may never understand.

      • I have to speak up here… My mom is a working mom and invited me to come home. I went for Brat and I stayed back for Bean. We have to plan this in advance. If moms arent comfortable leaving home and we want them around, plan early, go in your 6-7th month if you want them. As my mom says – we want the advantages of traditional care like a mother, but we’re not willing to go home as girls traditionally did. I was annoyed when mom didn’t stay after my delivery but today I see it as fair. Why do we keep expecting them to disrupt their lives even at this stage. If I’m old enough to do the deed and get knocked up then I’m old enough to manage my kid too.

        • MM, my mother says this:
          People should always plan and save enough money for:
          Raising their kids
          Giving ‘sakkath’ (charity)
          Paying old-age home guys

          I silently add one more to the list: to take care of your parents. They can’t buy the kind of care that I would give – care with love. I don’t want to worry about my job when the time comes.

          What I’m saying is, it may be logical to ‘not expect’. But, I would be disappointed/hurt if I don’t get my parent’s love when I most need it – say, when I’m pregnant, emotionally vulnerable, greedy and want my husband and parents with me all the time. I would expect them to leave everything behind and come running to me. It’s not the ‘help’ (something that I can pay for), it’s the ‘love’ that counts.

          That said, I do agree with you on Muhammad going to the mountain…… In that case, I might just drag my husband along with me 😉

          • I think being hurt and disappointed, is a kind of pressure isn’t it?

            Today as a parent I know there is only so much I can do for my child. So many of us mothers are back at work – what if our kids say they are hurt or disappointed that we werent SAHMs for them? That is a subtle pressure too. And in such close relationships as parent and child – its not easy to hide expectations.

            Of course we all want our parents around in our weakest moments. But we often forget that they have a life too. I know I shouldn’t talk because I’ve given up all pretence of a life to be with the kids. On the other hand lots of other parents fight for their right to have a life. Just because our parents are of the older generation, we tend to imagine that they don’t have a lot of the same hopes and desires to live freely, that we do… I’ve parented for 6 years and I can only imagine that if in 30 years time my daughter still feels hurt and disappointed everytime she snaps her fingers and I don’t jump, I’d jump off the building. 😉

        • Why is it that when you ask your parents to come stay with you,someone would always think that the child is expecting the parents to do things around the house?I did not want my parents to come and do things for me.I wanted them to be by my side and stay with me.Their presence around me would have given me more support.Yes,If I can have a baby,i should be old enough to manage it.This is NOT about them cooking,cleaning,taking care of the baby stuff.I did all that even when they visited later.

          • See, I don’t know you, so if you comment and I am responding, I am going to take the obvious route. Even if you don’t expect them to help around the house (and I didn’t say that in my response to you) the truth is that the timing has to be of their choice. I am not saying it is easy to accept. i am, just like you, struggling to accept these new age parents who won’t drop everything and run because their kid called, just like more traditional parents are getting used to daughters and sons who don’t want to get married or have kids. There is a lot of change around us and we’re the generation seeing it all. I don’t know if there is an easy way to deal with it.

            I understand that you felt unvalued and unloved at your time of need. And i have no idea why your parents made the choice they did. But I am guessing that they had a good reason and like all the rest of us, more communication of those reasons is required.

          • V, although my mum did come to help me post-pregnancy, I knew it was very hard for her to arrange – she has her own 97-year-old mother to take off, she doesn’t have stable household help at home, our dog (because it was my sis and me who got the dog) cannot be left home alone – and so I told her that I totally understood if she could not come. I did not feel that she was duty-bound to come and I truly appreciated her coming. I really would have understood if she didn’t come. I would also have understood if she went to my sister’s and helped with her baby but not to me – because I have a household helper and my sis doesn’t. I think it really depends on the reasons your mom couldn’t come. When we ask our loved ones for help and they do not oblige, we feel hurt. But if they have good enough reasons to not be able to oblige, then we should understood no?

  23. As a teenager I have experienced the fights, tantrums, yelling and the crying. Now my parents come and stay for months with us here in the US. Me, my husband and my sister pamper them, and it is such a beautiful feeling. They have never once felt bored here like I have heard other parents complaining. I am waiting for their next visit:)

  24. I have the same struggle everyday. I live in another country and keep telling myself to be more patient and more tolerant to the things my parents say. But, eventually I lose patience with them not understanding what I say or how I think (who can blame them? They grew up in small towns without the benefit of the superior education they worked so hard to give us, their children) and I end up arguing or fighting with them about silly things and say mean things to the only people who may give up their right arm for me. I justify myself by thinking that they have said many thoughtless things to me when I was growing up (and thereby more impressionable and vulnerable to insensitive comments). But really there is no justification.

    I’m back in the blogging world after a long, long time and its so nice to come back and read your blog (had a bit of catching up to do).

  25. This is quite a hard hitting post..
    I think I need to try and be a better person on the whole.. Life is passing by. I was a stupid, ill tempered teen (I think) and always believed I would see some good change in myself after I turned 20. I turned 25 two months ago and I still see no change in myself.

    Maybe its time to think about it. If I don’t work on myself now, I don’t know when I will.. Sigh..

    • Your awareness of what needs to be improved indicates that at least you are open to changing yourself for the better. The twenties tend to be turbulent anyway- too many changes in ones life. You will grow as a person, I’m quite sure of that!

  26. I always thought that I inherited the worst in my parents and good to know that I am not alone. Maybe I need to look and find what I inherited that’s great about them too. Thanks MM.

  27. I am consciously putting an effort to be a better wife, mom and also trying to be a good daughter. I think I initially took my husband for granted and never apologized to him even if it was my mistake. From the past 2 years, I realised that what I have been doing is wrong and told him him that instead of doing the blame-game every time, we need to sort out issues in a more mature way.

    Now that I am a mother, I am even more grateful to my parents for their unconditional love. Though, I dont express it openly, I keep telling mom that I am amazed how she managed the same situation very smoothly without ever giving her kids a hint of the troubles they were facing. But I do lose my temper with her from time to time, though I am careful not to say any hurtful words. When I was pregnant, I said something really hurtful and banged the phone. My husband was the one who made me realise that I am not supposed to talk that way especially to my mom. So, I call her back to apologise and my dad lifts the phone and says..its ok kanna, its only mom right. She understands, you dont feel bad about it and stop crying. My dad is the sweetest I say…today is his bday and I am missing him like crazy. I guess thats the reason why I am blabbering without making any sense.

  28. This really struck a chord MM ! I have so much to say,yet am uncapable of putting it into words right now…

    It’s great that you realise you have to work on being a better daughter when you have time with them… I was so foolish, i never realised till my Mom passed away. I am certain that i was a very good daughter to my Dad and he would have been proud of me today. But i have to admit i always thought of my mom and just my MOM, in short, taking her for granted, not spending enough time with her after my marriage – even though i knew she was missing me. Heck, mom’s place was just a 10 min’s walk from home, but all i used to do was a short 2 hour visit every weekend. One day, she just passed away due to a heart attack and i realised with a shock that i was not ready for it. She was just 45, i expected her to be around for much much longer, i guess i thought i would have all the time in the world. I feel so terrible even after so many years of losing her, i sometimes feel i deserve it when somebody at home hurts me. The first thing that comes to mind is i would have hurt her so much by neglecting her that i deserve all the pain now.

    Sorry i may not be making much sense, just trying to acknowledge my feelings i guess… btw, thank you for a great post. God bless you..

    • Raji, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say. You just brought in open one of my worst nightmares. The feeling of too-late…

  29. Thank you for this post MM. It really made me stop and think.

    I was actually relieved to read your post, and all the comments, to see that so many people had problems with their parents, that I am not the only one. My husband has an almost perfect relationship with his parents – it’s never gotten worse than mild arguments with his father. And I constantly compare his relationship with his parents with my relationship with my parents, and I worry about what I/my parents are doing wrong that we hold so many things against each other and fight so much.

    With my Dad, my fights are more like heated arguments, but are always rational/logical. Its just that my Dad and I see life from completely different perspectives. These days, we argue because he wants us to save and plan for the future, while we want to travel. And over the years, the frequency of our arguments have come down – he has learnt to grudgingly accept that this is how I am, while I have learnt not to lose my temper because he offers a differing point of view.

    With Amma, its much more complex, and much more emotional. Till I was 20 I was very close to Amma. But over the years, we have drifted apart, and I don’t tell her everything anymore – mostly because she disapproves of some lifestyle choices I have made and there is no getting around that. She’s also gotten very involved with her work, she’s something of a workaholic, and I feel resentful that she hasn’t been paying me any attention ever since I got married. And our fights are very emotional, and end up with her crying and bringing up unconnected things, and me stomping off to cry in private – even if the fight started for something as simple as her wanting me to change the top I am wearing.

    Sigh! I don’t even know where to start with correcting my relationship with my mother.

    P.S: My husband and I had a fight in the morning, and then I came and read his post. I called him up and said “I am trying to be the better person here, so I am willing to forget our fight in the morning and be cool again”. Note that I said ‘the’ better person, not ‘a’ better person. I am horrible that way, but my husband only said that it was a sweet gesture and accepted it. I sometimes think I don’t deserve the people who love me. Sigh!

    • Is his relationship perfect or simply non-confrontational?
      For all that the OA and his parents are not screamers, they shove things under the carpet and you never hear of it again. But you see no improvement either.
      In our case we’re always squabbling, arguing, there is confusion, tickets are booked and cancelled and trains missed. Phew – I get exhausted simply thinking of the chaos. But its all communication, innit?!

  30. I kept dithering over whether or not to comment on this one.
    You know the Ex I broke up with, long ago? One of the biggest arguments we used to have, was over how different we both are, emotionally. Hot tempered, letting my tongue run away with me and venting all my anger out but apologizing and forgetting the incident in the next hour – that would be me. He was the quiet person who would rarely lose his temper, but keep it all in and sulk for days on end and keep bringing up past incidents, whenever we fought next. This turned out to be such a deal breaker (among many other things :)) . The whole ‘immature, emotional idiot’ phrase kept getting thrown at me too often. I wish I could have told him all that you wrote up there – that being quiet is not a sign of maturity and wanting to make peace before the night ends, is not a bad thing at all.
    About my parents and me – I am a lot like my father, though I get the temper from my mum. As the first D-I-L in a sons-only household, she got a bit of a raw deal (most of which seem unintentional, to me), in the first 2- 3 years of being married. She has never forgiven my grandparents for it and I see how it torments her and feel sorry for her. I have tried getting her to move on, but she refuses to. It’s a constantly festering wound, that she throws at my dad’s face, every time there is an argument. To the old man’s credit, he handles her well and they share an awesome relationship, but I wish she’d learn to forgive this one thing – the only one whose happiness it seems to affect, is hers!
    I have also learnt in recent years, to cut off people who make no sense. Sometimes, its a waste of time and effort and its just not worth it. Case in point, my dad’s younger brother. We are a family that is nauseatingly close to each other – and as the first grandchild, my life is everyone’s business. He has the nastiest temper and all my life, I’ve been asked to rein my temper in, when dealing with him, cos’ well, ‘he loves me a lot and he says what he says, only because he cares for me’.
    At a family gathering last year, he brought up my wedding and it being ‘delayed’. He got a earful from me. We didnt talk for a bit but then he came over home and we started talking like nothing had happened. A month ago, he came home and had a similar conversation – preachy, accusing and totally out- of- line. It ended up with a screaming match between him and me. I am tired of the pressure that such relationships bring to my life and figured I am better off w/o such ppl.

    That said, I have heard arguments from a lot of the ‘quiet when angry’ folks, in favor of how one must reserve one’s anger and tempers for people who are acquaintances and how family/ friends should not be subject to it. I am not sure – I am usually fairly indifferent to people I am not too close to. I am definitely more patient with the whims and tantrums of people I love, but that also means they are the people I’d feel the most ease over losing my temper, no?

    Phew, long comment. Sorry 🙂

  31. This is so spooky! I was agonozing over this topic for the last one week. Yes, I too have a vile tongue. And it just lashed out a week ago.

    Warning: Long comment ahead.

    Though it takes some really nasty comments to ruffle my mom; dad gets easily hurt. But he does come around as easily. Mom will carry the memory for ages.

    Though I’m hotheaded, there are certain things I try to avoid/want to avoid (not just with my parents):
    1. Don’t critize their parenting. Mostly easy, because I’m not a parent and they don’t get a chance to berate me. Ahem! There are instances when I’m tempted. For example: when they criticize their parents in my earshot.
    2. No off-hand comments. The same thing can be said in so many different ways. Think and customize the comment before saying it. This is the hardest for me.
    3. Don’t tell them what to do with their free time. I mean, I don’t want anyone to tell me rom-coms are a waste of my time. So, why can’t mom watch that silly reality show!
    4. Don’t tell them how to behave with each other. *hanging head in shame*. “Can’t you guys have a civilized discussion?”. I just imagine hearing, “Hello? I’m talking to my spouse here”.
    ….
    It just boils down to controlling my tongue.

    Things I want to do/try to do:
    1. Call them more often. My dad is a telephones-are-for-emergencies person. (Me? I’m just plain lazy). But he loves it when I give a one minute, just-like-that call. So, why not?
    2. Tell them to take it slow. Tell dad that he doesn’t have to still work extra hard, make that extra rupee, so that his lazy relatives can live comfortably. I just have to find a nice way to tell this.
    3. Take them for ‘indulging’ vacations. Because when they do the economic-vacation thing, it just happen to include half my village. And it’s a stressful afair for everyone included. I just have to find a way to hide the bills. (What? 100 bucks for a coffee?!)
    4. Be more open with them. I usually don’t tell them why I do/don’t do certain things. For example, they don’t know why I don’t have any kids yet. When other nosy people ask, they just tell “it will happen when it will happen”. I’m greateful for that; but I have no clue what they really think about it, or what they have assumed my reasons are.
    5. Make compromises where I can, if it makes them happy. I’m an atheist. But I can muster up the patience to sit through a religious ritual. It makes my parents happy, though they know that I don’t really care about such stuff; and am just daydreaming sitting there. Now, large scale family functions – those are a different matter. When I do attend them, they have to ginore the acidic glares I shoot at them while socializing with my nosy relatives. I’m working on my plastered-on smile and my adoringly-irritated tone for “Do I remember you? What kind of question is that?!”.

    • I am ALWAYS telling my parents how to talk to each other. I know its a spouse thing and not my business but hey, i’m invested in that business, I tell them and am very concerned about my ROI.

  32. so much in this post resonates with me. lately, i have been thinking quite a bit about my relationship with my parents as well as with my son. with my parents, our relationship has always been very difficult. mostly, nothing to do with them, as i have come to realize over the years. it’s me. i am a difficult person, with a scathing tongue. i have taken them, mainly my mother, for granted. and, now, as the years pass, having become a mother myself, i am trying to let certain things go. to be a better daughter. to think before i speak.
    my son, like yours, is a “marching to the beats of a different drummer” kind of guy…i think every mother has one child who will test her, challenge her. it is hard to parent him, though i love him with every fibre of my being, he is a loving, affectionate child, he also demands levels of patience and understanding i never knew i even had! so, i am trying hard to change the equation, the status quo, by letting go of my expectations of who i think he should be, diminishing the importance of others expectations of how he should be, giving him the space and time to grow and flourish. it’s always going to be a work-in-progress, since they don’t come with any instruction manual!
    these are the two relationships i am working on. trying to, at least.

    • You’re right. It is a work in progress. two years ago I wasn’t right for my son. Today I am far better equipped to handle him. The key I think, is wanting to improve the relationship. Else its very easy to ignore and say – oh to hell with it. his life, his problem.

  33. This really struck a chord. There is never a weeked when i dont scream at either one of my parents…but monday morning when i call them it’s all forgotten 🙂 I realize i can do this only with my parents “take them for granted” Now that i am a parent myself..i try to hold my tongue as far as possible,
    Truth be told the holding a toungue is something i have learnt after i started interacting with MIL. I am forced to do it 😦 Sigh! Don’t know if it is old age or her nature she just drives me up the wall with her comments. Deafness is a boon in such situations…i digress..

    Well, am like the OA, can’t express my love even to my kids. Trying to hold my temper, be a more patient mother..2 steps forward and i see myslef going 4 steps backward. 😦 Wonder what the brats will have to say about me when they grow up.

    • Only nice things I am sure 🙂 If you want to tell your kids you love them… or your parents… start small. Say it as you hug goodbye. Just say, love you.. and walk away. Or when you’re patting the kids to sleep and the lights are off and you’re hugging them. This is how I taught the OA 😉

  34. Gosh where do I even begin…I am forever trying to be good everything! And often left feeling like an utter failure..esp when it comes to friendships. I am hopeless at keeping in touch. period. I have lost some really nice friends all because I didnt do enough of ‘keeping in touch’ from my side. No calls, no mails, no visiting, no remembering imp dates, not concerned enough, not replying back to messages and mails, not informing about imp events, not asking for help/advise(thats imp too, makes the friend feel needed), not buying gifts. The handful of good friends that I do have are simply because ‘those’ people have gone out of their way to remain my friend!! They have done more for me than I have ever done for our relationship, thye havent given up on me and for that I am so grateful. You are the 2nd person after my husband for whom I have worked hard to keep as a friend!! 😀 I am a diehard-stalker-fan of your blogging after all., I have tried to do my bit and that too isnt a whole lot…
    Sometimes, I crib about being lonely not realising that it takes 2 to tango, and I must reach out more. But with age and time I am becoming more reclusive and lazy too! FB keeps me going-just about. And your post makes a lot of sense, but I still dont see myself begining to bother about my pathetic PR skills….oh, well. 😦

    • Frankly, if you don’t miss them and don’t feel the need to call etc… that means the relationship isn’t important. Which is fine no? We all don’t need 876 friends….

  35. I read your post & the comments too.It touched me to the core just as another on women being physically abused/battered in marriage had.Being short tempered , I too lose my temper & let fly at my parents when I’m in a foul mood.With Dad , we both yell at each other say the nastiest things & the next moment we can forget & have a good laugh.With Mom who is also short tempered & stubborn like me ,the hurt & grudges on both sides have last ed weeks & months. And she’ll throw back my words at me long after the incident ,sometimes years.I have to admit I’m guilty of the same.With Dad I can’t remember what we both said hours after the nasty yelling.Also I’ve always felt Mom’s always been closer to my younger sis (perhaps due to the fact my sis was always falling sick as a child) & that was something I found very difficult to accept earlier.She will hotly deny having a favourite & being a mother to 2 kids of my own I am now realising that although we may find one kid less troublesome the love cannot be unequal.It’s brought closer home when my daughter who has the same fiery temper sometimes accuses me of loving her brother more.I’m still trying to work on my relationship with my Mom & I’m already 44:)

    • Same here.. Ma will deny it till she is blue in the face but she has a soft spot for my brother and if he weren’t such a lovable person I’d rouse myself enough to be jealous. As it stands I love him madly too, so I put up with it.

      • Yes I know .In fact a college friend once even asked me if I wasn’t jealous of my sis but I can’t be because I know it isn’t her fault.And besides, she sometimes accuses Dad of loving me more:)So it somehow seems to even out although I can’t resist pointing out that they still prefer to continue live with her although they have sold their old home & now have a brand new home close to us both.(they would live with her during the week & go back home on weekends,as she had a bigger home. We had both deliberately moved to the same area after marriage & both sets of kids would be under their care during the day while we went to work).

      • MM’s Mom and Dad (and all other parents with grown up kids),

        Would you please publish your thoughts on this? I’m sure there many kids here, who may not have an open discussion about this with their parents. We desperately want to hear what you think.

        • I shall prod them into talking…. hang on. Let me call them. They avoid commenting on my blog because they like me to be free to say what I want and not worry about their opinion on it.

  36. My name is ____________ and i’m not a person with much patience esp with illness. Just not good at dealing with it.

    My mil made my life hell the first 2/3rds of our married life. By many acts of omission and commission – it was no bed of roses. She has been an invalid and been with us all along. Which also meant – we have never really had much of a life with each other – my husband and I. Later she developed schizophrenia with paranoid and delusional tendencies – that was a living hell till we realised what the probelm was and started her on treatment.

    Then she got worse – she needed to be taken care of for everything. Bathing, feeding, cleaning et al. All those years – 10 of them – i had put up with everything silently – only cribbing to my sister. When she became completely physically dependent – it coincided with the birth of my 2nd child. Maybe it was the bitterness of all those years coming out? Or maybe it was the stress of having to do too many things – i turned into the most awful person. I’d scold her incessantly while i was caring for her. Be really angry when she wouldn’t co-operate. In simple terms – be plain nasty. And she would just keep quiet. Probably in fear of how she would manage if she antagonised me. I’m not proud of what i did 😦

    One day, i kind of heard myself. I was shocked at how mean and petty i was being. Since then – i have got help with her so that i wouldn’t be worn down and take it out on everyone and her. The medication helps her mental condition. And when i do interact with her- which is not much really – i keep it gentle, kind and friendly. But I’m horrified to think of how awful i was to her for some time.

    With my mother – that’s another comment/story. Dad passed away a few years back. I’m so angry at him for that. He had no business popping off so suddenly with no preparation for us 😦

    • See this is completely different. With full time work and two kids, taking care of an invalid, specially someone who has made your life hell, is probably the last straw on the camel’s back. I am pretty proud of you for taking note and actually figuring a way out around it. Most others would have pushed her off the terrace or jumped off themselves…

  37. Oh what am I working on? Everything – always, then I forget, then I realise again and start to work on things again !

    As for my relationship with my parents. I moved to the other side of the world, and now they come to visit for a few weeks each year. I miss them for most of the year, then by the end of their 2 month stay with us, we’re all ready to be apart again! My sister-in-law calls it a ‘stock cube’ – very concentrated!! I wish we lived closer together, but we’re all where we want to be in our own lives. My father is very practical, and always told me not to change my life for them (my parents) to care for them or feel obliged to them. He told me that they brought me up to be my own person and live my own life, and to move on.

    I don’t know how I’ll feel about all that if they every get sick and need someone there for them – on the other side of the World…..

    http://beourbest.blogspot.com/

  38. surprisingly, the best relationship i share is with my parents.
    mom and me have screamfests but it’s awesome cos it is all over then and there. no one brings it up later. we tell as we feel and imo it’s the best way out.
    dad is the more silent one who will never express how he feels so everytime i have an inkling of somehting bothering him, i pester him till he tells.

    the difficult bit is with my sibling and my grandmum.
    gran is really old and needs to be looked after. the amoutn my parents do for her, i doubt any kid ever can match up. i lose my patience with my granny all the time and feel like a horrible human being and curse myself all the time about not being understanding. i know i need to work on it and i am not going to make excuses. i just hope that she knows how much i really do care for her.

    otoh, as expressive as i am with my parents, friends, cousins, i wish i was the same with my sister. somehow over the years i have always looked upto her as so much of a role model, that opening upto her now a huge task for me. i will trust her with all my life but always find it difficult to confide in her. she is my guide and my moral support for everything but i just can’t be the best friend most siblings are. i wonder if she feels hurt about it.

  39. Hmm…the intention of this post was something, but the discussion and what stays in one’s mind about the post is something else.

    As a child, a teenager…well upto the time right before my marriage…my dad and I would have a lot of pow-wow! We would fight about the boys I brought home, the clothes I wore, about changing TV channels ,…well name it and we fought about it. I think it’s a known secret in my house that my dad had a soft spot for my sis and ppl say my mom had a soft spot for me. Honestly I started developing a bond with my parents as an adult only after my sis got married and went away. Until then she was everything for me.

    The one thing I’ve alwez admired about my dad is his ability to say sorry. Even as children…on nights that he had spanked us. He would come by to our bedroom at night. slowly lace his fingers across our foreheads….press our legs and say sorry and hug us. Those are v.precious memories I have of him. Ma, on the other hand, can’t really bring herself to say sorry. She is not expressive. She has a sharp tongue..and when mad ,she has no control of what she says.Her apology was only in the form of actions, never words. N of course…it took us several years to read into those actions and interpret them as apologies. I’m thankful I learnt from her tho, ‘coz the husband is exactly like that. n once you understand such personalities it’s a lot easier to deal with them.

    I remember as children when we advised ma to not fight with pa or said sumthing about how they should or should not do something…my parents always said “u will u’stand once u grow up or once ur married”. Today ! I get what they say. Its very easy to advise from a 3rd person’s shoes. Its different when your wearing them.

    Since I got married and moved to the US…my dad and I don’t butt heads and the relationship ma and I have developed is unbelievable ! touchwood! I do once in a while scold them about how bad they are at taking care of their health or about what they both are fighting over..but the arguments settle down a lot quicker.

    I’ve always preferred staying a li’l (not as far apart as US and India!!) distance away ‘coz I believe it help keeps the bond intact. Right now, my sis stays close to my parents and I know they butt heads a lot more often. They won’t let each other down when it comes down to it, but yet will have some matters of frustration between each other.

    On the other hand the relationship my husband shares with his parents and sibling is so different and well distant. Could write a whole post on it. I am so shocked and left speechless when he tells me certain incidents. I cannot imagine that parents can be that way too.

  40. Interesting post. Its not that I have a complicated relationship with my mom but me & sis tend to make fun of her sari choices, her everyday outlook on the world and her side of the relatives, they have some funny characters in the family 🙂 Come to think of it, its got to hurt her a bit and she might think about it, the way we make fun. Thats something I think I need to work on 🙂

  41. I prefer to be anonymous here because I am ashamed of the relationship I have with my parents. It has never been good. We have never confided in each other and my parents have vehementally opposed every big life choice I made- graduate school, moving to the US, husband and decidign to work instead of staying at home and taking care of my son. I feel they are very narrow minded and it shows in their actions. I feel sad when I think of this and have made many efforts to reach out but it is very trying as they are very judgmental. But despite all that if they ever fall sick or need help financially I will be there in the blink of an eye and they will aslo reciprocate if anything happens to be despite their disapproval of me. Maybe I am not trying enough? This post makes me think……

  42. A very,very thoughtful post MM. This came out about the right time for me I guess. My father was long gone when I was in my formative period- when I was just finishing college. There isn’t a day I dont miss him and when I see my sis in law or friends talk to their dads, I would imagine how it would have been with my father.

    My relationship with my mother had been very stormy in the past. Some of my life’s most horrendous fights have been with her. It all makes me sad. Today, I am 10,000 miles away from her. Any gesture from her makes me feel ashamed of those caustic comments I had given in the past. I have asked her “how much time will you take to make a simple food for two?”, I do no wonders in the kitchen today, make my husband wait for lunch and I wake up late most of the days. That question and the expression on my mother’s face linger around my mind every time I have a bad time cooking. She was worked up, managing work & a home and couldn’t think straight. We all know how hard it is for a single-working mom. Also, a big reason for our parents’ behavior is the way they were brought up. My mom’s dad ran rather a tight ship and that left some scars on her. She passed on some to me knowingly or unknowingly. When it happens unknowingly, none can help it. I know for sure I will give those things to my children that I did not have, but the thought that I will hurt them with some of the inherited peeves bugs me.

    I don’t work here and I end up yelling at my husband most of the times. But, I wasn’t the reason for any of those fights with my mom and I never started them. I know it and I guess she knows it too. I feel bad thinking about the past, thinking how better it could have been when all is good. The thought immediately turns sour when we have some disagreement . I start blaming her. The mind is a monkey MM. At least mine is.:-)

    Being the only child, I consciously try my best to not hurt her feelings now. I speak to her (phone & skype) whenever I can. Our time is what they need the most. I want her to start doing new things, things she has never done before like joining a music class or making fun trips with her friends or even clubbing…so that in the process…she & I can both understand more of her..more of the person she actually is. There is definitely more to her than the busy-overworked-strict mom that she was.

    • Can one give tips on such a matter? I think part of confidence is acceptance of the person you are. I spent years being a wall flower because I thought I was uninteresting and a nobody – someone who needed to work really hard to be accepted. At some point I stopped caring about the way I looked and behaved and figured that those who didn’t think much of me werent worth caring about anyway. I know its a cliche, but sadly it is true. I have to say though, that it also required me to think my own thoughts. And make my own choices. Because as long as you follow society’s diktats there is always something more you should do and always something you are lacking in.

  43. Hi, I am commenting for the first time, this post really struck a chord. I am 31 now. Since I got married, I have realized how much I had taken my mom for granted, never having appreciated her efforts at home. She’s worked as a teacher for over 30 years and as long as I can remember she was up by 4:30 every morning, fixing breakfast and lunch for all of us (and packing the boxes too!!) before leaving for her job by 7:30. And I never helped her, even when I was done with my education and working :(, I even used to nit-pick about how the home is not well-kept all the time. Now I am married, working in the US and realize what it takes (even without kids) to be working, cooking (dont even cook everyday) and keeping a tidy home. My parents recently retired and are visiting for 3 months and I am taking this opportunity to indulge them. Mom misses her teaching and is trying to get more computer savvy so she can try online tutoring :), so it is a role-reversal of sorts (of course she doesn’t criticize about my cooking or about how uncomfortable my hountidy home or she and dad on the computer for long hours and I cook. I refuse to let her do the daily cooking, cleaning….ofcourse except for the occasional mithai making 😉 and I can see my mom enjoying this break. My brother and SIL live close-by too and my SIL is really nice. She doesn’t expect any help from my mom in the kitchen, although mom tries to, my brother got married recently and mom is trying, almost anxious about being a good MIL 🙂 My SIL even taught mom how to improve her typing speed on the computer. And in general we are having a nice time pamperiing and indulging my parents.

  44. Sorry hit post too soon on the earlier comment, pls ignore that.

    Hi, I am commenting for the first time, this post really struck a chord. I am 31 now. Since I got married, I have realized how much I had taken my mom for granted, never having appreciated her efforts at home. She’s worked as a teacher for over 30 years and as long as I can remember she was up by 4:30 every morning, fixing breakfast and lunch for all of us (and packing the boxes too!!) before leaving for her job by 7:30. And I never helped her, even when I was done with my education and working 😦 , I even used to nit-pick about how the home is not well-kept all the time. Now I am married, working in the US and realize what it takes (even without kids) to be working, cooking (don’t even cook everyday) and keeping a tidy home. My parents recently retired and are visiting for 3 months and I am taking this opportunity to indulge them. Mom misses her teaching and is trying to get more computer savvy so she can try online tutoring 🙂 , so it is a role-reversal of sorts (of course she doesn’t criticize about my cooking or about how much less furniture I have at home), she and dad are on the computer, reading, etc and I cook. I refuse to let her do the daily cooking, cleaning….of course except for the occasional mithai making 😉 and I can see my mom enjoying this break. My brother and SIL live close-by too and my SIL is really nice. She doesn’t expect any help from my mom in the kitchen, although mom tries to, my brother got married recently and mom is trying, almost anxious about being a good MIL 🙂 My SIL even taught mom how to improve her typing speed on the computer. And in general we are having a nice time pampering and indulging my parents.

  45. i had somehow always thought that mothers and daughters are super close. maybe because all my real-life examples are so. i’m not as close to my dad. it’s more of a formal relationship.
    i do take my mother for granted. and always feel ashamed later. must try harder to be nicer to her. thanks for the reminder :).
    i was really surprised to read how many women have issues with their mothers. i thought that was reserved for MILs :P.

  46. MM, your post was both a relief and a revelation. Relief because I finally feel like “I’m not the only one” and there seem to be dozens in the same boat. Not something to gloat about, but I guess relationships are complex and the ones with our parents even more so.
    In my case, the transgressions ALWAYS happen with Mom. Whether it is criticising, blaming, yelling, stomping etc. With dad, I speak my mind when I am annoyed but he is rarely so upset that he will yell back (my mom thinks he does this with us for brownie points and ends up fighting with her when something we do is bothering her). Anyway, like you, I have had days when I felt like crap about treating them badly (mom will never cease to remind me of the harsh things I have said/done…but she will never speak about the hurt she inflicted in the process…) and this has happened more after A’s birth because now I feel like – this could be me 20 years down the road.
    Living in a country where house help is unaffordable makes us immigrants kind of cranky when something spills, is messy (even if for a little bit). And they are little things but they escalate very quickly. Lately, I have been keeping quiet about things. If they bother me, I try to quietly fix them, if I can’t I leave them alone. But matters of debate we’re still quite vocal and rather loud about, I guess that’s how we roll.
    Keeping your tongue on a leash is hard and complicated because all of a sudden we “children” feel as though we are adults and don’t want to listen to anything about how to run a house, how to raise kids, how to anything…
    My mom was complaining about how we don’t “listen” and how we want to do our own thing. The only example I could give her was my 14 month old. She’s constantly looking to do things on her own, wants her own spoon, wants to feed herself. It’s all about independance, so if it starts THIS early, one can only imagine what a 30 year old feels like.
    Anyway, I’m sure you get the drift…enough of my rant. We’re all saying the same thing in different words/tones! But like you, I am working on my relationship with them as well.

  47. Lovely comments section MM, should be the way you write that make us bare ourselves in your comments section..

    I have a funny if not tragic case.. Am I allowed one more comment??

    My mother comments often, when my dad and me talk about the world, politics, business, economy and stuff, ee have some of the best discussions. Then when we sit around as a family to discuss our issues, either its me crying and screaming or dad just walking away or sitting there without a word and mom being the crying witness to all this. There are lots of unresolved wounds, its a result of going through years of financial troubles together and trying to bring up the daughter in a way that none of the relatives in the village find fault. There is no doubt to the amount of love that is shared among the 3 of us. It is just that few things are just unresolved. As someone said its a work in process. Step one is I have accepted that this is my life cant keep blaming my parents for not sending me out of town (out of Chennai) for my PG and my parents have come to accept that it was a mistake on their part. We now can have a civil conversation about it. The others I hope will come around some day.

    On the otherhand with my boyfriend we can discuss all the issues that we face, we understand each other well on that counts, no blame games, lots of thought is put into the other person’s feelings. But, we are known to hang up phones on Julian Asange or video piracy! or he getting something for me or me getting something for him or how many days should a holiday have.. and then once its over laugh about it.. Ufff.. someday I hope we agree on these things 😀

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