Sometimes parents are unaware of the turmoil they cause their children.
I’ve outlined my ambition to improve the world before to my mother. I wanted to – and still want to – improve the quality of life for every individual. In typical fashion for my mother she dismissed the idea as pointless, stating I should instead focus on helping my family first. There are a myriad of issues I could address within my family in many capacities, such as being a doctor.
Well, it’s been several years since the last series of conversations that involved ambitions but over this past Thanksgiving it happened again. I shared my goals beyond getting my PhD and it got dismissed again. One of the reasons was amusingly enough that my mother didn’t want me to do something difficult so that I wouldn’t go bald. The other reason is that she wanted me to focus on helping India as a whole instead of worrying about her and the family as my focus has honed in on lately.
Before I rip into this, let’s be clear that parents are also human. They develop and change over time. They learn and experience new things. They understand and gain perspective on old things. My mom in particular has been through a lot including a lot of illness. Perhaps more importantly she’s discovering a life of her own after my brother headed off to college and I officially moved away for my job.
I understand all of that but lest I mislead you with my charm and stunning good looks, I must disclaim that I too am human and I need to vent.
Get your ducks in a row because every major decree you’ve proclaimed for my life has lead to me breaking my figurative back twisting my life to fit your mold the best I can while still retaining my sanity. I worked beyond my means to try and get a biomedical engineering/mechanical engineering dual major when all I wanted to do is mechanical. It’s not that I’m not capable of it but that I am – as I shamefully admitted earlier – human. I have a finite amount of energy, willpower, and attention span (there is evidence indicating all three of these are finite). Don’t forget that I also have a finite amount of time.
Let’s not forget that you’ve basically encourage me to eschew deep and abiding friendships in favor of academics and yet I can see you with your friends (and I have seen Appa with his too). I know you didn’t just study all the time no matter how much you want to portray it that way, and I know how lonely you get when your social interactions start to decline due to a variety of reasons.
And then, after ALL OF THAT, you have some magical revelation that drastically changes everything you’ve ever taught me.
Amma, you’re the reason I arrange my shoes in my apartment so meticulously. You’re the reason I’ve seen every episode of Friends and enjoy chick flicks so much. You’re the reason I love to vacuum. You’re the source of inspiration of how I fold my clothes after washing them.
You’re the reason I wake up and part my hair on my left, whether lightly or sharply, every day.
If I’ve picked all of that up, how can you not expect your other lessons to carry through as well? Can you not understand how strenuous it is when you’ve molded me into the being I am then suddenly turn 180 degrees on everything you’ve ever taught me? Without consistency from you I have no firm foundation to craft a sense of well-being and value and end up adopting wild ambitions that spiral into unfathomable obsessions that lead to pain and misery.
More than any of that it seems more and more like you’ve given up on yourself with these new teachings you have for me. I mean, come on, since when did the plight of India ever mean more than your family? Than your father, my thatha? Say what you will now but I will burn this existence down to the ground if it means better for my family. That’s you, Amma. But as I was saying, with these new teachings and all the other things you’ve been saying are disheartening, as if you’ve concluded there’s no point for you to be alive. Lucky for you I somehow have some foundation within myself, as twisted and odd as it may be, to hold myself upright but all you’re doing is just confusing my little brother.
Certainly Appa isn’t helping with anything but who can really do anything when there’s nothing consistent to love, to adore, to praise, to uplift?
Get a grip, Amma.
This is not something I’ll say anywhere else – again because of how you raised me – but I love you. I love you so much, and it hurts me to see you this way. I don’t care what happens within myself because I’m screaming through life at a breakneck speed like a cheetah desperately hunting down its prey. I’m tougher than you’ll ever give me credit for (but that’s okay). Nothing is going to slow me down. The cross I wear over my heart is for you.
(For any non-Tamil readers out there, which might be a lot, I apologize for the following):
Amma, do you remember this?
That should sum up what I think.
I know I’m not following in the exact path you want. I know I’ve absorbed cultures from around the world that you may not prefer I did. But forget the tradition, forget what you consider your duty. This is just between you and me – and I want you to be happy.
And on my part, know this: Probably more than you know, I am a deeply flawed individual, but that is the consequence of the other immense positive qualities I have. An easy example is my social awkwardness as a trade-off for the vast amount of learning I have. I understand this world down to the quantum level better than most people and more importantly I know how to use it.
My point is this: Whether or not you agree I should make you proud, I am the result of what you have taught me and I am a great man as a result.
Well, that came out differently than I expected at first. I suppose that’s a good thing because what started out angry was not really angry, just frustrated. Amma, if you happen to read this, just remember a simple entry in a blog cannot convey everything you are to me. To any other parent out there, it seems my advice from all of this is to let go of expectations, traditions, norms, and really anything that is not purely you and your child. Does that make sense?
That’s enough venting for the day. Hopefully you got something useful out of it. Or something interesting, at least.