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Sympathy for the Misunderstood Parent

April 23, 2012

December 27th, 2011 11:04pm

Tina says something to Michael.

Kid (looking at Tina, says to Michael): Who is she?

Michael: She’s my sister

Kid: Oh man, I feel bad for you (he walks away).

I have always known that I am too harsh on my brother. But for some reason, I just can’t help it. Sometimes, when I am yelling at him, I suddenly experience this feeling… this feeling of transcendency, if you will. I feel removed – as though everything has become blurry, and I suddenly hear the words that are being said. I hear the words, but it is as though they are coming from someone else’s mouth; not from my mouth – no, not from mine at all. It is in those moments that I suddenly realize that I am my mother.

When that happens, I would stop abruptly. I would take a big gasp – almost like a hyperventilating gasp for air, and speak quietly, trying to explain to him what he has done wrong.

My mother is a yeller. Really, she is, but strangely, I don’t remember her always being a yeller. I remember my childhood as being pure and fun-filled moments. I do not remember any yelling; I do not remember any stress. But maybe “yeller” is too harsh a word to describe my mother, maybe “holler” is a better word to describe her. She hollers down the stairs, and hollers across the room. But of course, she only does this because this is the only way that she imagines would grab our attention. My mother is such a worrisome person; she is quite anxious about many things as well. I always want to make things better for her, but I often do not know how or where I could even start. How can I make things better? The best I can do is try to reassure her that nothing will go wrong, but this, I do not even know for sure. Because we always plan, and plan, and plan, but nothing ever goes the way we plan. 

I know my mother – I probably even know her better than she thinks I know her. I know that all the things I hate about her are all the things that my brother probably hates about me. I hate that my mother likes to control every single situation. I hate that my mother always wants me to do things her way; I hate that I feel like I cannot think for myself.

But oh, how I am like my mother!

I have to have a plan. Always, I need to have a plan! I hate it when I do not know what to expect; I always have to have a schedule, a to-do list, a plan B…C, D, and E. I need to be in control of the situation. I always want things done my way, because I always think that I am right. And when I am wrong, well, I am reluctant to ever admit it. But I will, if I find that I was really wrong and do believe that I was wrong. I will never admit that I was wrong if I do not believe it.

Of course, it is always easier to say, “told you so” than “I was wrong”. Always.

I always want my brother to do things my way, because essentially, I have “been there, done that”. I know how to do things, I know the right way to do things. (Or well, the right way to do some things.) So it is completely frustrating when he wants to do things his way – the wrong way. It kills me to see him go down the wrong path. It exasperates me that he would not take my advice when all I am trying to do is save him the time and trouble. Huh, this must be how my mother feels all the time.

I always seem to lose myself in those moments when I am yelling at him. I hear myself yelling, and really, it is just awful. Sometimes, I catch myself criticizing him – but I just cannot help it.

Nothing ever seems to be good enough for me.

I tell him that he is playing the notes too harshly, or that he is playing the piece too quickly. I tell him that he is not capturing the essence of the mezzoforte. I tell him that he does not read enough, or that his involvement with video games is just a colossal waste of time. I constantly fix his grammar, and criticize his lack of manners.

The less he listens to me, the more I yell. It’s strange really, because I am never the type of person to yell. You don’t even have to know me well to know that I am not the type of person to yell angrily. Sure, I’ll yell, but only if you’re across the room and I am trying to catch your attention. Or I’ll yell if I’m excited. But I was not and am not the type of person to yell at anyone. For the most part, I am a very calm person. I only become very excited when I am having fun and am immensely enjoying the presence of my friends.

About 99.99% of the people I meet, or already know, tell me that they have never seen me mad, nor sad. I am always a bundle of joy. And for the most part, that is correct. I am not easily upset because I find that it is just not worth it – there are plenty of things in the world to be happy about! There is no point in being upset about it because what has happened, already happened. What’s the point in being upset? You cannot change what has happened. It is in the past; now, all that is left is a memory. Anyway, I’ve always been proud of my ability to look past things. I’ve always felt such pride in myself when people tell me that they have never seen me upset.

So imagine – really imagine me yelling.

I hate that I yell at my brother. I hate that I criticize him. I hate it all because I know what it’s like to always have someone telling you that you are heading down the wrong road. I need to let him make his own mistakes. But this, I’ve realized before. Sometimes, I would neglect to say things to him just so he can do things his way.

I’ve always wished that my mother would realize this – realize that I just need to do things my way. I often silently plead with my mom to just let me make my own mistakes. Perhaps my brother too, is silently pleading with me to let him make his own mistakes.

Am I a bad sister? Am I a bad friend? Probably. Will I be a bad mother? Maybe. But none of this matters. All that matters is that I love my brother, and that I would do anything to help him. And even though I can’t help but force my failed dreams onto him, I just hope that he knows that I only mean well. And this is the same for all of my friends. I criticize because I am judgmental and I have standards. But even though my standards are very high (even high for myself), I am slowly learning not to subject people to these standards that I have.  Everyone knows that I criticize. But I criticize because I care. I criticize because I want to make everyone better. But maybe my better isn’t always better.

Damn, this must be how it feels to be a parent.

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