Independence is an interesting concept. Something that I thought was a major and necessary accomplishment. As a young child it meant being able to master simple tasks on my own. As I grew into my teenage hood it meant masking rebelliousness with this concept. Every time I would try something new and exciting that my parents may have objected to I just claimed I was testing my newfound freedom.
“Hey mom and dad, I would passionately explain, “I just have to go away to sleep away camp all my friends are going.”
“We would love to send you to camp but we are going upstate for the summer to Grandma and Grandpa’s.”
“To the bungalow colony again,” I sighed, I will be so bored.”
“Sorry dear, we have already finalized the plans, really most kids would be happy to get away for the summer.”
“Yeah right”, I grumbled under my breath.
Truthfully, deep inside I knew I would love the change but because I had to prove I was an independent thinker I refused to back down and continued to nudge them until we left to go for the summer.
I never lacked for anything. My parents always tried to hear me and meet my needs, but like most teens all I heard was the “no’s”.
In so many ways during my teen years I continued to mix up independence and rebelliousness.
I had to have the latest fashions and to choose my own kind of friends. I was secretive and often argumentative as I always knew best.
Finally at age 19 I moved out thinking I would be relieved to be on my own, but to be honest I was scared of all my new responsibilities. Now I had to pay all the bills and take care of all my needs.
How will I manage in this dingy apartment I think my drive for independence might be causing me to take on more than I can manage?
Nah, my other side yelled, this is good for you! Don’t worry, you are strong and independent, you got this!
I lasted about maybe 6 months on my own and then I could not manage financially, I was almost evicted but one of my friends helped me move out in the nick of time.
I still refused to move home and moved into a house which I shared with three other people. It was okay but somehow I did not feel so independent anymore.
I drifted from job to job while learning to be a nurse. Finally I finished my degree and got a job working the night shift at New York University hospital I loved my job but living with others in a noisy house was not optimal for me. I needed my quiet and my space.
So I started to look into other options but could not afford to mess up again financially so I remained where I was.
My parents offered me my old room back and deep inside I missed my home but my pride refused to allow me to concede.
After a year or so I changed my place of work and decided to move into the nurses’ dorm on the premises. I was given my own room and we shared the rest of the facilities. It was another experience for me and one I did not particularly like it.
Still I refused to give into my parents offer to move home instead I found an apartment nearby the hospital to share and it was a bit better but to be honest I missed my home and my family.
After another year I decided enough was enough and I opted to move home just for a bit so I could save some money and get my own place again.
My parents happily accepted me back. Of course I had to make sure they did not infringe on my independence so the first chance I got I sat down with them to lay my ground rules.
“Listen mom and dad you know this is a temporary stopover right, so I just wanted to remind you I have no curfew and I will be coming and going as I please.”
They exchanged a glance and replied,
“We know how important you think your independence is, we also know you are a grown women but please do not abuse our kindness.”
“Abuse your kindness I bristled, what do you mean?”
“The fact that you even have to ask that question shows us that you really do not get what independence means,” my mom gently answered.
“Oh brother here we go again. You think I am a child Mom, I am not I just know I do not need rules to stifle me especially since I have been on my own for so long.”
“That may well be, my dad answered, but this is our home and for as long as you live here you need to be respectful and follow a few simple rules. All we ask is too call us if you are not coming home on time please let us know, to keep your room clean and to help out as needed with shopping and laundry. Quite simple, if you ask me.”
“Ok I will try, “I reluctantly agreed.
“Good,” said my parents as one voice and so my plan to remain free ended.
I was so busy most of the time I was hardly home except to eat and sleep. As I fell into a routine I found myself happy to have a comfortable environment to live in. Whenever my parents saw me they always greeted me warmly and inquired how I was without infringing on my life. They expressed their support and love and I began to realize they had always wanted the best for me.
I had been too busy proving my independence to notice that all along I could have had it at home and that being really independent was not just living away from home it was so much more.
As life went on and I began to raise my own family I began to see how much my parents really wanted me to be responsible , independent and how much more I could of learned from them if only I had slowed down enough to really hear them.
So before you run off to your independence maybe listen to the sounds of home and learn some wisdom from the ones who love you the most. That way you won’t miss out on the best times growing independent at home.