Thursday 17 March 2022

Thought Picnic: Parental pride is a bonus

It took a while to come

I was well into my 50s when I heard my father say something along the lines of “I am proud of you.” to me. Now, parental pride is a sort of gift, precious in its provenance and quite useful in some circumstances. It is a kind of affirmation and approbation that can help build confidence and character, it can also be in short supply.

I would be the first to say, I was not the easiest or best child to raise, my adolescence was turmoil and conflict, headaches and frustration for my parents and I found no respite or succour for the changes I hoped to attain to move into the category of acceptable. However, it was in being the ward of someone else that I began to find sense and purpose.

Put it in perspective

On the matter of parental pride, that went to another sibling, who received accolades and praise from every place, the school, the community and beyond, much as it would have created scope for amazing success and ascendancy, it did not prepare them for some experiences would best be forgotten.

Much as I love my parents, I have never worshipped the ground on which they have walked, I have neither the temperament nor the predilection to obsequiousness. Obviously, my father thought I did not respect him enough, I could not think of what else was expected of me, the similarities between us are essential by inference genetic mainly, probably with some tics and mannerism but not definitive of who I am or have become.

Get on with your life

If after a fashion I had determined to please my parents to any degree, they probably would be the happiest parents around, but my life would have been utterly miserable because I would have been living an expression of their desires rather the fulness of my own individuality, uniqueness, and expression.

What I learnt for myself was to live my own life as best I can, achieving what I could with the tools I have been given. Whether impactful or less so, I have followed as much as I have been given means and opportunity, my dreams and the consequence is for better or for worse, I have my own narrative that anyone can choose to celebrate or excoriate, but I am not working to someone else’s time.

A bonus is not the thing

Parental pride, in the end, is a bonus, if it comes and it is expressed, it should be received with grace and if does not come, it is not the end of the world. I am glad for having my parents, their experience and advice can be useful, but the buck stops with me, I make my decisions and call the shots for my situation. Once the umbilical cord is cut, we are beings floating in space tethered by the gravity of filiality but not bound strictly to an orbit. They can only do so much; we have to do the rest.

You do not have to become the life your parents wished you had, but you can quite become the life they wished they had.

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