March 20, 2010

I am a reflection of my upbringing after all...

It's everyone's worst nightmare, right, to turn out like their parents? Don't we all, at some naive point in our lives, make a solemn promise that we will never be anything like them? Then why is it, that we inevitably always turn out to be a reflection of our parents?

I recognize my mother in the scrunch and reddening of my face as I cry. I hear my father in the raised voice as I get excited. For all the years I spent vowing to myself that I will never be anything like my parents, that I would be "better," I have ended up becoming almost exactly like them in many ways...and I don't regret it one bit.

I understand now, why my father used to get exasperation when my sister and I took our time getting ready for a party; I feel the same impatience surfacing now, when my friends are tardy for everything. I feel the rage build up within me when someone acts irresponsibly, especially over a simple task or a common-sense act; it's the same anger that must have built up within my father everytime I failed to rise to his expectations. I get frustrated when things don't go per the plan, my plan, which is obviously the right plan because I know what I am doing; he must have felt the same when trying to guide me through my formative years, when we would always end up knocking heads and I would try to defy him.

It's not healthy, I know, but sometimes - most times - it is easier and feels more sensible to let the mistakes slide and keep pushing through; my mum has turned a blind eye to plenty of my shortcomings. I have this sense of optimism that no matter how bad it is today, things will get better tomorrow, or if not tomorrow, then eventually. That's her ability to push on to the next best thing, shining through in me. I turn to my writing and dancing, just like she turns to her cooking and gardening; always finding something in life smile about, to feel good about.

From my father, I have learned to fight for what I believe in, for what I know is right. He taught me the value of self-reliance, the importance in finding the strength within myself to take on a task and see it through when no one else will. His words echo through my mind, reminding me that my family and career are my only priorities.

From my mother I learned to appreciate the good things in life, to move beyond the bad but to always learn from them. She showed me that the best way to achieve success is by never giving up... I might not be on top today, but I can pull through and make it tomorrow. Her quiet strength and will power give me standards to live up to and match up with.

He's hard on the outside, demanding, a bit of a perfectionist, and pushing me to work harder, do better. But he's soft too, a complete family man who respects honesty, hard work and genuine effort, and is forgiving and understanding and supporting - the proverbial rock in my life.

She's soft on the outside, motherly to a fault, kind and giving and tender. At the same time she is stoic, her core stronger than steel, her mind is sharp and ever adapting, her expectations are high and she has a firm belief that I will deliver my best under my own terms.

We spend a lot of time and energy finding faults in our parents, in their ability to raise us, their habits and their manners. I regret all that wasted time. Age and experience has given me a perspective that allows me to appreciate how right my parents were most of the time. I wish it hadn't taken me this long to realize and accept their wisdom, to learn their strengths and to adopt their many good qualities into my life.

I am still growing, still learning. I am, by no means, a perfect imitation of my parents. But I am realizing, on a daily basis, that I am finally incorporating much of what they tried to teach me years ago. As I improve on myself, I recognize more and more similarities between my parents and I. It will be interesting to see just how much like them I become, with time...