I will be the first to say that you never understand most of what your parents have been babbling about all of their lives until you have a child of your own. Then all the comments and advice finally make sense. Having a child changes your entire outlook on life, your entire way of looking at life in general.
For some, it is hard to let go of the ‘me, myself, and I’ frame of mind, even after you have had children. For others, it isn’t an issue because they have never had the luxury of just focusing on their wants and needs, they have always had others to care for.
As parents, most of us love our children unconditionally, no matter their attitude towards us as they grow older. I recall my own feelings towards my parents as a young adult – thinking that they were just so old-fashioned and out of touch with how the world – my world – actually was. I suspect it is the same for my children. Unfortunately, just as I had to learn for myself the importance of family ties and traditions – so too, do my children. As much as I would love to spare them the agony and heartaches and regrets that I have gone thru, they are, after all, their mother’s children and just as hard-headed and stubborn as I was at that age.
A parent can only take so much though. After having given all that you had to your children and doing the best that you could with what you had available to work with, to have your children make you feel as though it wasn’t good enough, that you failed them as a parent, that somehow you should have done things differently, is just too much for any parent to be expected to just accept and deal with.
So, sometimes a parent has to close off their heart, their mind, their soul – has to ignore the unconditional love still in their hearts and distance themselves from their children. So the walls get put up, memories get closed off and tucked away, and parent and child go their separate ways. Doing so is not easily done, especially during the holidays, when memories are abundant. To say that it is heart wrenchingly difficult is putting it mildly, at best.
All you can do, then, is sit back, give them their space, and forget that they exist until they are ready to acknowledge that you are their parent once again. That is, provided they reach that point before it is too late for them to make amends.
Sadly, I’m okay with that decision … for now. It is what it is and I will not, can not, continue apologizing for the past. No parent should have to do that. We have all made mistakes, we have all done things we were not proud of, but each and every one of us did what we thought was best at the time. If our children cannot accept that, then there is nothing left for us as parents to do but to move forward and leave our children to deal with their perception of past events and hopefully, in time, be able to move forward with their lives once again as well instead of being mired in the past.