It is a funny thing, how a child views his parents. For a huge part of our lives, our parents are all we know, the center of our universe. As we grow up, I don’t think we stop seeing them as our parents, just as they never stop seeing us as their children. How selfish can we, the eternal children (in their eyes) be!
See, we like to think we come into our own, we stop being children, we mature, have our own experiences and our own opinions. Our parents, we don’t like to think a lot about their lives away from us; before us or after us. We forget they were an actual person before they became parents, they had their own experiences; made mistakes and had glory days. It’s true they became the primary care giver of a tiny human being, and that became one part of their multifaceted life, but they probably had dreams and fears (not to mention a LIFE) before and after that.
I recently read two books that had a strong child-parent relationship theme.
The first one: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, is the story of Will’s mother’s (Mary Ann Schwalbe) diagnosis, struggle and death due to Pancreatic Cancer. Reading had always been a part of their life (if I remember correctly, Will even worked for a publishing house) and they decide to create a book-club of sorts (only the two of them meet) to discuss the books they both read. While they discuss these books, many times the themes in the books make them question and discuss their own lives. One of the recurrent topics that pops up is Mary’s life before she was a mother, particularly a time when she was involved in theater camp. The enigma is never resolved, and Will often wonders about his mother’s past.
The second book: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, this is the story of Laurel; who witnesses her mother commit a crime and several years later digs deeper to uncover why her mother perpetrated that act. Through her discoveries Laurel continually questions who her mother was before she became a mother and even though in the end she discovers things aren’t always what they seem, it is safe to say her mother had a whole life and story before becoming a mother.
Personally, I (like many other individuals) have heard stories about my parents; sometimes told by them, other times by people who knew them when they were young. In these instances we may find it hard to picture them as individuals, but it is in these moments where we catch a glimpse into the life they had before us. When it comes down to it, they will always be our parents, in their eyes we will always be the baby they brought home from the hospital, but that doesn’t mean we have to act like said babies.