“Parent-Free Life”

Today I’ve lived a year without my parents.  We didn’t always agree, and we especially didn’t always agree about my weight, but they were my parents and I loved them.   I am not my parents.  Mom, Dad, and I were three very different people.  I grew up thinking of myself as one side of a triangle.  But eventually I began to see myself as my own person, and not just as their daughter.  And we all made our own choices.  My parents weren’t always happy with my choices, but what parent IS happy with all their children’s choices?  Hell, sometimes I haven’t been totally happy with my choices.

Here’s a secret: I haven’t always been happy with my parents’ choices, either.

Mixed feelings may not be very Hallmark, but at least they’re real.

Today I told the man of the house that I’ve been an orphan for a year.   He suggested I consider thinking of myself as “parent-free” instead of “orphaned” or “parent-less.”  I laughed.  Hopefully being “parent-free” will involve keeping the good memories, letting the hurt fade and keeping the lessons learned.

9 thoughts on ““Parent-Free Life”

  1. When my father was dying, I was beyond miserable. I loved him dearly. All the same, I couldn’t help thinking to myself “well, at least I’ll be safe from the Pirates of Penzance, now.”

    Before I could say a word, my brother looked up at me from the other side of Dad’s bed and said: “Twistie, I just thought of the upside to this. From now on, we’ll be safe from the Pirates of Penzance.”

    Since Dad was a huge Gilbert and Sullivan fan, we both knew he’d be pleased we were thinking of it that way. To this day, I simply think of myself as safe from a very particular band of highly musical pirates who would never, ever dream of carrying off an orphan.

  2. On a more serious note, I’m an orphan now too. It’s very hard, regardless of how perfect or not perfect the parent was.

    I think it’s a little easier to let the bad things go because I’m a parent now myself. You realize that you are making mistakes as a parent too, and your kids will not always agree with your parenting choices. It helps to be more forgiving when you can see things from the parenting side as well as from the kid side.

    But a part of you will always be the child, no matter how mature and wise you get, and a parent’s loss *hurts*, whatever the quality of that parent. Part of our job is to just *let* it hurt and to grieve as needed.

    Family relationships are complicated, so grieving them is complicated too. If there are things left unresolved, then you have to grieve not only the person and the relationship, but also work through the unfinished business. I’m a fan of grief therapy or support groups when needed, especially for those relationships that were particularly complicated or for those who had a difficult history.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Hugs.

    • I’m an orphan too. I read a great article some time ago that pointed out that ‘griefwork’ (in terms of working on matters long unresolved) has no proven mental health benefits, and may only prolong pain unnecessarily. While there’s things I wish had been dealt with properly after the first time I lost a parent, I suspect it’s true that there’s nothing to be gained by chasing those problems up now, only a whole bunch of drawn-out and unnecessary hurt. Each to their own, as ever.

  3. My father passed away in late November of 2010. My mother is still very much alive. She will be having a second hip replacement in May.
    My dad (in retrospect, he had OCD) was always very perfectionistic and I grew up thinking that I could never do anything good enough. But he was never particularly venomous, which my mother can be. Sometimes I have ended up feeling really awful about myself. Nonetheless, I miss my father and I know that it will also be difficult when my mother is gone.

  4. My relationship with my parents was not good. Too long of a story to get into here. They were not happy with having a fat child and especially a disabled supersized adult. I was kind of an “orphan” from the get-go. I go into more detail here about how being fat affects family relationships. It can get really tough.

    http://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2012/01/social-stigma-of-being-supersized-in.html

    http://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-social-stigma-of-being-supersized.html

    Even personality-wise, I used to ask, how did I get born into this family? Sometimes it gets hard watching even people in their mid40s with such close knit families and not having children, I didn’t form my own beyond having a spouse. A couple relatives are good about calling, but I’ve had some very tough going including being banned as a bridesmaid from my sister’s own wedding years ago.

    I am sorry for your loss and am glad there was love there.

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