Do you remember angrily slamming the car door or telling your parents to shut up because they were annoying you? How about rolling your eyes as they asked you to set the table or clean your room? These moments don't seem that far away, but in a way they do.
In eighth grade, I was full of angst and just couldn't be bothered by anything. In high school, I started opening up to my mom more, although I'd be pissed at her and nearly impossible to deal with for basically no (valid) reason. She either asked too many questions or asked me to do something that I didn't feel like doing, but she was just being my mom. Then there was my dad who made me cry, fleeing to my room in embarrassment when he raised his voice. It almost makes me laugh looking back on some of it and remembering how ridiculous I was. We were on completely different levels and couldn't connect. I was tired of being nagged, and they were probably tired of dealing with a pissy, emotional teenage girl.
As time went on, and I entered my first year of college, I began to see my parents not just as "Mom and Dad" whose sole purpose was to care for me and my brothers, but people with pasts, dreams, hobbies and futures. They were more than people who were there for us or put food on the table. They were more like me than I thought, just older. At this point, a small friendship began, and I wanted to know more about them, like people I'd just met. I never gave much thought to their life before me.
This growth was progressive. Just last year I'd get sick of being home for winter or summer break after a week, threatening to go back to school or vaguely "go somewhere else." When I was adjusting to being back home, I was adjusting to seeing my family every day which sometimes drove me crazy.
When I was younger, I never quite appreciated my parents. I thought I did, but saying thank you doesn't seem like enough now. When they allowed me to go to Stonehill, despite it being one of the most expensive schools I applied to, I became more grateful for them than I had ever been before. They even let me live there, despite it being less than 20 minutes away, because it made me happy.
I saw my dad work day in and day out doing maintenance at the hospital and taking plastering jobs on the side to pay for my education. I saw him wake up at 5 a.m. to go to my aunt's house to take care of my grandmother who has Alzheimer's. I watched my mom work part-time at a hair salon and work full-time taking care of my younger brother and keeping the house together.
It was never our style to be close and emotional. My parents didn't always say "I love you" or hug me, and they didn't have to because they showed me love every day through their perseverance and persistence. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
This summer, we went to The Cape for a week's stay at a cottage in Dennis for the first time in 11 years. Mini-golf, the beach, tossing footballs, frisbees, lots of ice cream and even going to the bar with my older brother and my best friend. My brother and I hardly talk much, never mind go out together. Everyone stayed the whole week and had fun, and I wasn't quite ready to leave.
When you realize your parents are people, you respect them more. You treat them like the people that they are instead of ungratefully expecting things from them or relying on them for everything. You're more thoughtful and think of them as friends. You wash the dishes when Mom is at work or water the garden for Dad because you know they'll appreciate it, and it'll lighten their load. I love my dad for doing all that he does and still leaving time to hangout and garden with me, or watch "Criminal Minds." It's not a lot, but these are things that I'll remember when I'm older. I love my mom for her unwavering strength, determination and compassion. When you realize your parents are people, you gain an unbreakable support system that will last a life time.