In thinking. In values.
I read Usha’s post this morning. Earlier I read Maami’s post too. All these coupled with the thoughts that have been running in circles in my head had to find expression today here. Growing up, I had grandparents live with us both paternal and maternal. As a child their presence in my life was subtle and very deep. I was aware of the premium that was placed on filial responsibility by both my parents. In many ways that has shaped who I am. It was easy telling myself that as I grew I would take care of my parents and my in laws. That ‘care’ has so many implications to it is an eye opener to me.
Fiscal, emotional and physical demands either direct or implied tests my values and beliefs. While I want to be the responsible daughter, I often find myself juggling personal needs with unstated expectations that comes with the job of trying being the perfect daughter. Each time I plan a vacation I am torn between wanting to go away just as a couple and wanting to include mom or FIL in our trip. If I do decide not to include them, I am wracked with guilt. Every phone call that I make and hear a voice that is not exactly cheerful, I feel responsible. I want to make them happy but some times we do not see eye to eye on what defines happiness.
On the other hand, I read books and see a different world around me from what I grew up in. The consistent message being ‘you are responsible for your happiness’. You make your life to be what it is. It is OK to put the self first and not be guilty about it. Torn between the concept of owning responsibility for another person’s happiness and letting go I find myself confused and often being unable to please either. It does not help that acquiescence is equated with love and respect either.
I realize there is no one way/right way to navigate this generational shift. We each find our way stepping on emotional minefields and getting bruised occasionally. Just as our parents/older generation learn to cope with the distance physical and emotional, we learn to take greater responsibility for ourselves.