Sunday, March 7, 2004

The Journey to Adulthood (1 of 2)

For people who actually do grow up (as opposed to those who never do), there’s a common progression of "stages" of how we relate to our parents over the years. First, we try every which way to grow up and away from our families. This stage usually hits us at about sixteen and lasts for a good decade. We’re going to stretch out those stubby little wings and fly, and we’re going to squawk and flap and rock the whole nest until we make it. If we fall on our butts, we might let Mom & Dad feed us for a little while, but pretty soon we’re back to pecking and squabbling, and trying to get back up and away on those precious wings.

Then we hit about thirty. We (hopefully) have our own nests now, maybe even our own brood. We’re "There"…and suddenly, it’s not as fun or rewarding as we thought it would be when we were struggling to GET "There." And it can’t be our own fault that things haven’t turned out to be as glorious as we thought. We look back at Mom & Dad, and start really seeing them as people. And we see…oh no! They’re flawed! They have warts and boogers, and they have given them to us! They did horrible things while we were growing up, scarred us for life, and we would never do anything like that to our children!

Sometimes our parents really are that bad. Most times, they aren’t. Regardless of whether or not they"re the horrors we painted them to be, we all still must arrive at the third stage of the relationship. If we don’t go there, if we stay stuck in stage two, we risk derailing the whole journey to adulthood. A lot of people get stuck here. They go no further in life; they simply wallow endlessly in a world where they are out of place and miserable, and it’s not THEIR fault!

Stage three: We get over it. We pack up all the revelations we had about our parents during stage two. We put them in a knapsack, sling them over our backs, and keep going forward. We have to take them with us…they are part of us and always will be. But once we pack them up and start walking, we realize they aren’t an unbearable burden.


  1. You are one very wise lady.

  2. With tears in my eyes, I shared this with my daughters. One at 31 has not yet found her way...but she said that this entry is sooooo true! There may be hope for the 12 year old! I lost my mom when I was in my forties, and was just getting to the stage where I could almost accept her failings. Sad...and I am still sorry we never resolved our issues.