Thursday, July 20, 2006

How much is too much?

Post inspiration: Sayesha's recent dilemma.

I lived for 22 years with my parents, before coming to the US to go to grad school. Ours was an extremely liberal home atmosphere- we discussed the crazy, dirty jokes with our mom and always felt free to express our opinions to our dad. My mom knew many of the little "crush stories" of school, and would often tease my friends when they came over. My elder sister had a few more restrictions than I did, an off-shoot of being the first child, and also being the pretty, girly one. I was the tomboy, it was hard to imagine me getting into trouble with boys, et al. Unlike some other girl-friends I had then, having "guy-friends", getting phone calls, going out with friends within reasonable hours, having people over, were never an issue for both me and my sister. Consequently, my life was pretty much an open book then. My parents knew almost all the on-goings in my life, and the respect and trust was mutual. Although my mom would've loved for me to become a doctor or an engineer (who didn't in those days?) they completely respected my choice of what I wanted to pursue, and let me go all out to live my dreams.
When I came to the US, a whole new life opened up for me. Being away from home meant that I was responsible for my own decisions, and the initial home-sickness and feeling of alienation brought on a whole new sense of vulnerability. My weekend hour-long phone-calls to my parents involved me narrating all the incidents of my life in painful detail. There were also several new experiences, that I wanted to share with my parents, wanted them to see and be a part of my life here, just as it had always been. These all-revealing phone-calls continued for a while, unaffected by the twists my life took, and all the growing-up I went through in those years. My mom was aware of my headaches, heartaches and most everything in between. Often, my friends would express surprise at how much I told my parents. For me, it wasn't an issue. I loved doing it, and never felt stifled.
Finally, it was my first experience with alcohol that struck the first dischordant note. I was proudly regaling to my parents that I drank an alcoholic drink, and it was no big deal. I wanted them to know of my latest adventure, like every other. Of course, what ensued was a long, angry lecture from my dad. I put down the phone quite confused, not knowing how to react. I thought long and hard and realised that somethings just had to be left unsaid. I was living in a different world than them, and the gap was very much there. For myself, I felt secure and confident about my decisions, and was beginning to get a bit disturbed at their strong reactions. At this point I began filtering things, or holding back information. I embarked on my first long road-trip alone and only told them after I reached my destination. [When I called my mom, she said I should leave my car there and fly back to my city, so as not to drive the 14 hours by myself again!]. I went sky-diving and broke it to them after the event, when I had my dad sharing my enthusiasm and my mom asking me to pack up, quit my Ph.D and come home.[Turns out they knew of a very unfortunate incident where their friends lost their daughter to a sky-diving accident.] Some of my biggest upsets, mishaps and disappointments I've chosen to not tell them, because I know they'd worry and hurt for me. And keep worrying much after I'd gotten over them, and insist I call them everyday or some such unrealistic thing. Sometimes, I'd love to be able to bare it all, there was a unique feeling of release and comfort in doing that. Other times, I realise that things are indeed not the same, and I cannot wish them to be. I need to decide for myself where I'm crossing the line and justify the effort they put in raising me.

28 comments:

qsg said...

Totally identify with it. I still share everything with my parents except when I am not well, or something is wrong.
The problem, though, my folks can sense it when something is wrong - it's surreal almost...!
Alcohol never ever goes down well with parents... and I can see why!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

>The problem, though, my folks can sense it when something is wrong - it's surreal almost...!

so true!!

>Alcohol never ever goes down well with parents... and I can see why!

ermmm.. yeah.:D

Born a Libran said...

I can seriously identify with you wrt leaving somethings unsaid... I have totalled my car (minor accident, no injuries, my fault) in the US and its been 18 months or so n they dont know about it... Every time they ask me about my car, I feel very guilty but I say theek chal raha hai... I cant get to tell them ki ab woh car, car na raha.... Initially I didnt tell them because I was scared that they would think I am hiding some injuries or something... Now I dont know why I dont tell them....

Prashanth said...

It's hardest at my age :) but you're a big girl... well ok I'm a big boy as well but you're a bigger girl... anyway my point is, they must have accepted by now that they can't control you... for those of us in the transition period it hurts the most :(

Harsha said...

We'll see what you do when you become a parent :)
Its very natural for parents to be protective of their child. Wouldnt you be?

I tell my parents everything too. And they react the exact same way like yours :)

Perspective Inc. said...

I can so relate to your post. Even am very close to my parents and sister and between four of us we are really open and pretty much share almost everything. Almost being the operative word here because like yours, certain topics with my parents are an absolute no no!
One day I figured I'l sneak in a 'glass of wine with dinner' in the conversation but it didn't go down as smooth as i thought..it sparked off some major lectures..which continue till date..
that over a glass of wine..
can you imagine what would happen if we let parents in on our bachelorette parties and girls' night outs??
lol

The Inquisitive Akka said...

I understand what you mean! I haven't gone far away from my family (the neighbouring state actually :))but anyway I have this compulsive need to spill my guts. Even when I know I am not going to get a positive reaction. I feel better after I hear the lecture! I am older than you are and I still feel this way! Parents....you never ever outgrow them! :)

The Smiling Girl said...

I guess everyone of us who had been ultra-close to their parents at one point of time and left home for some reason at a later point faces this..
Like you said, I had the same situations where I chose not to tell my Mom about the whole thing.
Yeah, they live in a totally different world where Alcohol means drinking and falling on the roads and wife beating, and discos mean places where girls and guys just have sex.. and they just wont see or believe anything beyond that.
I used to share every small detail with Mom before I got married, but then after marriage, my family life obviously took more time and I couldnt spend 1 hour on phone with her everyday, which obviously made her think that I am hiding many things from her and made her grow more protective of me.. Though I took lot of time to convince her that I am ok now, those 15-min phone calls a day do not suffice her needs.. God knows how I will explain my kid-Momma that her daughter has grown up.. And has done many more things which are totally unimaginable for her.. :);)
Like when I had my Bhaang and all other experiences, I didnt even tell them that I bunked office..

My friends here keep suggesting that I should not be divulging so many details to her, but I know that at this stage of her life when both her kids are settled and she has nothing to think about, all she can worry about is if her kids have reached their offices safely or not coz there are bomb blasts in Mumbai..

Yes yaar.. parents-cum-best-friends are the toughest to handle when we grow up and move away in life... really tough and feels bad when you have to lie that you are busy at work and so couldnt call from the landline, while you are actually partying away at a pub!!!!

Think about having one Mom like this, and having a Mother-in-law also the same type.. :)
My Mom-in-law got so used to my hour long convos on phone before marriage which gave the happiness of having a daughter for whome she always pined, that she cribs that I dont talk to her often after marriage, though I call her once in two days..
Uff.. the predicament of having two Moms and lying to both of them!!!
I end up feeling guilty of lying everytime I do that... God save me for lying so much!!!

greensatya said...

Hmm, interesting post. I guess your parents would be real happy that you share all the details with them. Mostly it is younger siblings who do it. The elder ones become adult right when they are teenager.

One should always listen to what their parents prescribe and proscribe. So if your mom says no skydiving, then no skydiving :p

But you did sky diving sounds so cool. Now I will see you from that frame:)

Sayesha said...

I think I'm gonna cry! :'(

Sayesha said...

Sometimes I feel damn guilty that my Dad doesn't know I have a blog... (he loves writing and reading) but then I blog about so many things that could make him worry about me... and it's horrid to worry about someone living far away from you... just wanna keep them away from the not-so-pretty parts of my life...

The Smiling Girl said...

@Sash, tu rona mat yaar is baat pe.. Tikh ho jayega sab kuch. Maine bolna, na jane kyun aisa lagta hain tikh ho jayega sab kuch!!!

The Smiling Girl said...

Oiye Ipanema, mera display pic dekh!!

*Grins at the successful proclamation of her display pic for the second time*

The Smiling Girl said...

Btw, maine is pe ek post likha tha.. lekin mood nahi aaya aaj post karne ko.. so nahi kar rahi hun..
shayad wapas ake karungi!

The Smiling Girl said...

Sorry for using ur comment space like Orkut scraps.. lekin kya karen.. kamzoor hain! Tereko scrap to nahi kar sakte na.. :);)

Rebellion said...

TGFI,
Dunno how to react to that post!! Agree with you completely that somethings should better be left unsaid!! Its not only about 2 different worlds but the gap.. generation gap which will remain! So many of our actions are wrong according to them, justified on our part and to avoid issues, you can't help but hide from them!!

Somehow I've never been so close to my parents to share my life's incidents with them! For that matter, I don't think am so close to anyone who'd know the 'real' me :P

@ SG
Loved your first comment, it was really cute :)

@ Sayesha
>:D<
Don't cry bacha.. kya hua? Fikar not dear :)

Take care,
Aarti

qsg said...

I can see the party has already started! :)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

libran,
yeah. its tough. i feel almost absolved of any guilt having realised that i am not the only one that does this. :)

prashanth,
i've been through the transition period myself, (there was no need of reminding me about my age, now, was there? ;) )
it's not easy, but you're not the only one, perhaps you can take some solace in that.

harsha,
indeed, i'll be protective. (Although i boast to my mom that i'll send my daughter skydiving as soon as she's ready for it) ;)

perspective,
glass of wine with dinner? i can see how that went. ;) night outs and bachelorette parties? what are you talking about? huh?

akka,
so true. we can never outgrow them.

s.g,
hullo madam. to yehi tera post hai kya? ;) ;)
man, on one hand it's nice to have such a free relationship with your m-i-l. but on the other hand, tackling two mom-figures can be difficult. i guess we've to forgive ourselves the white lies.

satya,
so how much do you practise what you preach? hmm???
:-)
yes, i've had one go at skydiving. it's truly the most liberating thing, EVAR. I recommend it to all. I can see how people get hooked to it. I would too, if I had the money.

sayesha,
yaar!!!!!! don't cry. that was not the intent of this post. was just getting my own thoughts off my chest.
yeah, there's no point telling them about the not-so-pretty parts of our lives. none really.

s.g,
arre. mast hai pic. ekdum cheer-phul.
woh scrap phap merko ekdum irritating lagta hai.
lekin now you should use the "network". ;)

aarti,
hmmm..the one that is dying to unravel others identities keeps hers a big secret, eh?
yeah, generation gap is very much there, even if we'd like to think otherwise. and when you go away from parents, it hits really hard.

qsg,
indeed! cheerio!

confused said...

Bahut serious hai Yaar!

All I know is I set my boundaries and my upbringing and values I imbued help me set them.

Beyond that it is my life and I would like to commit my own mistakes, fall stumble., whatever!

chalo, cheers to a chilled Bud!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

confused,
once in a while, i get real serious, y'know. be warned. :-)
well put man. cheers to a chilled bud-induced stumbling, falling, life. :-)

greensatya said...

I definitely do what I preach, but there is a qualifier to it. I don't ask my parents for permission. I just do it :P As I said, younger siblings are actually pampered by parents, not the elder ones.

And yeah, I don't share details of what I do with my parents. I have even asked them not to ask me the usual ' how are you ?' I am always fine. If I not fine then also I won't tell them. So what is the use of asking ?

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

satya,
ahha! very smart.
and don't start the whole younger versus elder sibling bit here. i get to hear that from my sis all the time. and i strongly disagree!
:-)

greensatya said...

Hehe, you may disagree but that is true. It is only younger siblings that get to hear that, "drink water", or "eat green vegetables", or...(you must be knowing them) ..:P

lol ;)

Janefield said...

beautifully written, loved every line of it.

i can so relate. i am very close to my folks too, sometimes a bit too close (based on what others have told me).

i still haven't completely learnt to filter what i shouldn't tell them, but to me the concept of keeping something from them is totally alien to me, given the freedom and liberties they've given me while growing up.

shub said...

I think I'm gonna cry too!
I dunno what to say..

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

hey satya,
await a post from me on this. discussion ko khatam kar daalne waala types. :)

t.c.o,
so this is you trying to make up for nasty comments on previous post, eh? nai chalega.
:)
yaar. i've learnt to hide things, or tell them after the event. otherwise..yaar. mushkil ho gaya.

shub,
oh dear! what have i done? people! don't go crying on my blog!! go read the duck chased me post. :)

Sakshi said...

Jeez.. I so identify with this one..I am the younger, tomboy daughter of the family. My parents always knew what went on in my life- until I realised that they worry about me way too much. THey would think up all these alternative scenarios and freak out. So now I just filter my news. They are in the loop and now exactly what I am going to do but the pesky lil' details, they don't need to know.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

heyA sakshi,
yeah, filtering is best....