Saturday, July 5, 2008

Can Parents Be Friends Too?

Yesterday we headed out to my husband's friend's mom's house to celebrate the Fourth. Every year all of my husband's friends (and their girlfriends and their one-night hook ups- oddly, we're the only married couple of his friends- at least until next week) gather there.

My husband's friend's parents show up too and everyone plays a huge nine-hour game of bocce ball (an interesting game I am just learning about). My first point is that these friends whose parents show up are so lucky. They have awesome parents. Parents that aren't embarassing. Parents that match their kids beer for beer. Parents that laugh and engage in their kids' conversations, even when it becomes borderline inappropriate. These are parents who have hung up their hats after successfully raising adult children and can now relax and accept who their children have become.

My parents will never be this way. My parents are really amazing, don't get me wrong. And I love them so much. But I wish that they knew how to "hang out" with us. My mom is a little crazy. I know everyone says that- but my mom TRULY is. Ask my husband. She's super religious and conservative- so the things we joke about would not be tolerated by her. She could never engage in our conversations. She's always trying to convert my friends and give them religious "trading cards" as I call them. She loves to tell people things about me that are no longer true and that are completely embarassing. She likes to wear the muu-muu she purchased in Hawaii ten years ago around our house, and she frequently likes to dance by herself while wearing it.

Recently, my mom started having little moments of forgetfulness or absentmindedness. During these moments, her mind goes blank for like 10 seconds and she doesn't repond to anything. The doctors told her these episodes might be little seizures and they wanted to do a psych evaluation on her. She replied, "I'm not crazy. When I don't respond right away its because God is telling me what to say. He talks to me." This might very well be true. But it's not the kind of thing you say to doctors when you are trying to convince them that you aren't crazy.

There is nothing wrong with my mom self expressing herself. It's great that she is so full of joy and that she is comfortable with herself. But when she does things like that around my in-laws or my friends, something inside me curdles and I want to be anywhere else. I feel awful for feeling like this, but I can't help it.

My mom and my dad will never stop being the kind of parents who have to always be teaching us, lecturing us, or managing us. My dad is super cautious. I can't tell him half the things I do because all he does is worry. Now that I'm pregnant, its 100 times worse too. He tells me how to drive, how to mow my lawn, how to paint my house, how to juggle family and work. Sometimes, I just want him to have a little trust so I can show him that I'm responsible and really do know how to handle my life. (ok, I don't really know how to handle my life but I'd like the opportunity to learn and experience it anyway).

Long drawn-out point being: my parents could never participate in our activities the way other parents do. They just don't know how to be "friends" as well as parents. Maybe it's my fault or maybe it's all in my head. While it's nice to have parents that are always looking out for me and trying to protect me from the "bad things" in life, parents that I can always count on for guidance and unconditional love, it would be great to have parents that can also be part of my "friend" circle once in a while.

When I become a parent, I might feel differently, but I would like to be the kind of mom that kids feel comfortable being themselves around. I want to be able to participate in some of their activities as more than a mom (when they are adults of course). I can't imagine missing out on a whole part of who my children are just because I cannot accept that part of their lives or because I'm always trying to change that part of them.


Tranny Head said...

Umm - God is telling her things?! Yikes!

She sounds sort of like my mom - except for the hearing voices part. My mom is SOOO SENSITIVE! You can't make a joke around her without her becoming offended - oh, and she's super religious and conservative, too.

My dad, on the other hand - cheers!

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean. My mom thinks she still has to "mother" us, I have told her that as grown adults she would be better off just accepting us as we are. We're not going to change. And by grown adults, I'm the youngest and I'm 32! I don't tell my mom hardly anything because I don't want to hear her tell me what she thinks I should do. If she stepped back and was more "friend" like, I'd be willing to share more.

Anonymous said...

my parents are awesome, hillariously funny etc. BUT they are CRAZY religious and extreme right wing conservatives. It's gotten worse since they've retired and moved to the south. All social activity comes from the church. They came to help me run a social event last year and I noticed they turned any conversation into one of three things: How great it is that person X is a christian, with christian values, how wrong the democrats are and how the flat tax will solve the universe's problems. They were always crazy churchies and right wing, but it's so EXTREME anymore.