Monday, October 26, 2009

Being a Daughter

I am one of five children. Out of those five children, I am the only daughter. I grew up with two older brothers and two younger brothers, and although our teenage years weren't particularly pleasant, we all made it out relatively healthy and happy. I talk to my brothers regularly, and I enjoy visiting them when I'm able to. They would probably like to loom protectively over me as I move through my life, but they mostly keep that to themselves. We have learned to be adults with one another, and I have to say I really like it.

There's a scene in the last season of Gilmore Girls where Rory is lamenting having to act like "a grown-up," and Lorelei comments, "You know, real grown-ups don't call themselves that. They say adults and pronounce it aw-dult." I feel, sometimes, that I'm in that intermediary space where I'm a grown-up who hasn't quite figured out how to act like an adult.

The hardest part of it is how to deal with parents now that I'm, well, grown-up. The relationship shifts--parents can offer advice or comment on their child's life and actions, but in reality, they have no say. All they can do is comment, smile or shake their heads, and realize that they can no longer control what goes on. Or at least this is what I think.

There comes a point when the child (now an adult) gets to examine the values and belief-systems that she was brought up in, and she gets to discard bits, keep bits, add new bits; in other words, she forges a new system that she uses to live her life. Sometimes it resembles that of the parents, but sometimes it doesn't.

I'm in that situation now: I'm living my life as I see fit, with my own beliefs and values. I make my own decisions and don't feel any compunction about not doing the things my parents think I ought. I am twenty-seven, and I have worked hard to get to a place of happiness and contentment in my life and with the way I'm living.

My parents, however, seem to think that I still need to live by their rules. And since I broke a major one by living with my boyfriend, they have seen fit to attempt to punish me for my "misbehavior".

Here's the thing: I'm not thirteen; I haven't officially lived under their roof since I was twenty-two (when I graduated), and unofficially since I was nineteen. I paid my own way through school, bought my own clothes and food and glasses, paid for my own healthcare, and bought my own car and paid to insure it. By living with Lance, however, I have made it clear that I no longer follow the rules that they wanted us to live by. I'm sure they suspected it as I grew increasingly vocal about my political leanings, but Lance and I moving in together was concrete proof. And now I'm struggling in that place where I know I'm an adult and am responsible for myself, and craving my parents' respect and acceptance (and approval).

I have no problem with them disagreeing with how I live. No parent will ever fully agree with all of their daughter's choices. All I really want is them to respect my decisions and let me live my life in the way that I have decided is best. Yet, they can't seem to let go. My father to the point where he won't talk to me. It's cruel and harsh, but it's reality. Hopefully they'll get over it because I have no plans of changing who I am and how I live to gain their approval.

Until then, I'll be the black sheep and the prodigal daughter.

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