My most recent read, Diary of a Diva, was deliberately chosen because it sounded very different to the types of book that I would normally pick. I wanted to stretch myself beyond the zone that I knew I would feel comfortable with. It has certainly given me plenty of food for thought, and in directions that I did not expect.
The protagonist in this non fiction book is very close to her family. She talks of daily phone calls and regular, large gatherings. Although she does not have any children of her own, indeed there was a suggestion that she has banned children from her home, she regularly shares the minutiae of her life with those she grew up with, her parents and siblings. To choose to do this is beyond my comprehension.
Within my circle of family and friends there are those who will talk regularly about anything and everything with their wider families. I know that this happens, I just do not know why. To me, my family is my husband and my three children. I feel blessed to still have living parents and siblings, in laws and other family relations, but they are each fed only occasional, edited highlights of my life. I was raised to fear ‘letting the family down’ with my behaviour. I learned young to hide what may be frowned upon, sharing detail equated to bringing shame on those I cared for.
It has been said that the most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them. I have always known beyond a measure of a doubt that I am loved by both of my parents. They have been there for me throughout my life, whatever I have chosen to do, actively supporting me in thought and deed. Since I moved out of their home though, I have never felt the need to involve them in the detail. I have no wish to answer to their whims, to be the person that they have tried to mould me to become. I will always keep in touch but I will live my life as I choose.
I may not understand why others regularly involve their parents in their lives, but that is their choice. What irritates is when they suggest that I should do as they do. I have chosen independence over codependence. I do not attempt to influence their desire to share, and resent any suggestion that I should follow suit.
None of this is an indication of past treatment or love, I do not measure love in such terms, neither do I buy into the idea that children owe their parents anything. I would like to think that my children will choose to spend some time with me when they are adults, but I accept that, should they marry and have children of their own, then their priorities will change. It is my view that their new family’s needs should always take precedence over mine.
I wonder if the old in law jokes emerged because adult children did not feel able to cut the cord. Then I wonder if needs are simply different. I am comfortable with a certain distance, but that is no reason why such a state of affairs may suit others. Just as I do not wish to be berated for my choices, so I must take care not to judge others based on my personal, core beliefs. Let us celebrate difference, live and let live.