Thursday, August 4, 2011

On a Serious Note ...

When did our parents stop being parents and start being our peers? 

When we're kids, our parents can do no wrong (other than making us eat our dinner before dessert, forcing us to finish our homework, and giving us bedtimes before all the good shows come on) ... they're doing what is best for us, even if we don't necessarily agree. 

My brother and I had a pretty rad childhood.  We had a stay-at-home mom, an exceptionally hard working but incredibly loving dad, and grandparents who couldn't be more active in our lives.  We both were in all kinds of after-school activities; our mom went to every single school concert, party, field trip, and game; I had a big brother who I worshipped; we took great vacations, were loved like crazy, and generally had a pretty kickass lifestyle.

I can pinpoint the moment that I stopped being the kid in my family and started being the primary adult.  The second I found out that my mom was in shock trauma due to a severe car accident, I was forced to grow the eff up and be the adult.  No need to get into details, but that accident taught me a huge life lesson: our parents are not these magical fictional characters that we place on a pedestal; they're real, they make mistakes, and they're human.  Doesn't make it any easier to deal with ... in fact, it's just plain weird to think of your parents as anything more than Mom and Dad. 

Ever since that accident 7 years ago, I have continued to be the mother figure in my family.  My brother has always been babied by me, which I love to this day.  My mother, however, likes to think of me as more her "friend" than her child.  And quite honestly, I've been more so her guardian, protector, and therapist than anything else.  Who can have time or ability to be someones child after all of those responsibilities take their toll?

Is it healthy to have a parent and child switch roles?  They call our generation the "sandwich generation," because adults are stuck between the role of parenting their children and caring for their aging parents.  But what is it considered when a parent just starts going wild and their 20-something child has to pick up the pieces?

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