Becoming Mom & Dad
"I SWEAR I WILL NEVER BE LIKE YOU!"
That, ladies and gentlemen, was my old mantra. The tantrum-like, anger-based, usually-comes-in-screamings kind of mantra. Every time I had a fight with my mom, or couldn't stand arguing with my dad; the mantra will do its job: to give me the winning feel of the happening war. I will either shout the line out loud or whisper it in verbose mode, silently by the heart. I never liked the adult attitudes they were giving me. All the rules, all the advice, all the harsh criticism. You sure can see how I looked like during teenage years: the geeky bookworm personality combined with a trendy side-job as a young announcer in one of the biggest private radio network in my hometown. An easy-going smart-ass who think she knew everything. Of course I won't listen to my parents. I won't listen to anybody. In fact, I don't think I even listen to myself.
So that's the very beginning of my long-time journey of Not Becoming My Parents. Plan A: Do not follow their life's path. My mom and my dad both were smart kids. Not only intelligent, but they also were good students; meant they didn't break the rules and they love to study. So I decided to get a good rank for my ego, but I skip school days regularly, just so that they knew I'm different. One point on me. Mom and Dad were graduated with a degree in Economy, and they worked in the corporates their whole life. I decided that I won't deal with Math ever again in university, so I have an undergraduate degree in Communication Science, and throughout my whole career, I have never worked in-house for any companies. So that's two points for me. Checked.
I continue my commitment with Plan A Extended: Do things they will never do. Both of them don't smoke, so I make sure I've tried smoking. Checked. They don't dye their hair. I bleached mine white, blonde and pastel lilac. Checked. They have no tattoos. I created my first wrist tattoo three years ago. Mom freaked out. Checked. I lied when they didn't allow me going to a music concert with my friends. I jumped out the fence and hung out till dawn every night. I took a solo trip overseas. I never applied to the university they want me to go. I choose different faculty than the one they suggest. I rent my own place after graduation. I might not go that crazy (like, criminal-crazy), but I made sure I go against all of the necessary things that I judge as their label.
Then... One day, a boy broke my heart.
I was sitting on the living room couch, our dogs lying beside me. I ask Mom if she thinks I will ever find my true life partner. She said, Of course. She never doubts that I will eventually find the one. I asked her again why. "Because even though you're always taking a different path other than what I - or your Dad - do, we know there's one thing we have in common: the ability to hold strong to your faith. And that one is always enough to bring all the good things you need in life." I smiled, and we hugged. She told me that I'd be alright. "I know you will forgive. Then you will love again." She didn't mean to give me any new advice; it's just her signature thing - she believe in genuine forgiveness, and that good thing will come to everyone who tries to do good purposes.
What my mother said have brought such turning point on the way I see my family. The way I see my parents. As my ego grows, I tend to take credits in everything I do - I did this, that was my act, I decided to do this, and so much more. I thought by taking such distinctive decision; I would have succeeded to proof myself that I am a whole entity of being, who made herself complete without following anyone's example. But throughout the time, I feel less and less attracted to my self-made theory. I started to notice how much other people around me, including my parents, have the rights to credit themselves as the significant stars who created my entire constellation. But especially my parents. Little I know before, that all of my "deviant" determination were made possible because of the tremendous faith my parents have on me. Because of their both spoken and (mostly) quiet support. Because of their blessings. The whole scenario of dragging myself away from my parent's archetypal life attributes was merely a confusion of me trying to settle my (gigantic) ego down. And also, I've always been afraid if all these times they were right. That my stubborn self will have to accept its own incapabilities to avoid mistakes. Also because, somewhere in between, mostly buried deep down under the skin; I was afraid that I couldn't be like them at all - so I, unconsciously, try to reject the whole idea of becoming them. Because of fear. And all those stupid teenage moments, even though those moments have shaped me well by the end.
There are many reasons, the ones I already know and the others that have yet to come. But I know I've overcome the fear of not transforming into whoever person that can do the justice to my parents. The "whoever" person that I know they will love entirely, eventually.
My Facetime ringtone breaks the silence. It's Mom. We live in different cities now, and Mom loves doing video call. My phone ring again. I answer.
"Epoooooy, lagi apa?" (Epoy, what are you up to?)
Mom greeted me, her face showed up on the screen, half. My father was beside her. They were on the bed, watching TV together. Another habit that I used to hate. She told me about her new cookbooks, filled with new classic cake recipes to try. Dad told me there's a new mini donut venture in the nearest mall. How the plants at home are growing, and how beautiful the Orchids are. Then there's a loud noise from the TV inside their bedroom, and they told me it's the latest episode of one India series they've been watching. Ew, another India drama? There must be a real horror in my face that somehow seems obvious, that made my father instantly laughed and said, "You have to try watching the series! It's not that bad!" I just about to open my mouth when Mom cut me out and roll-eyed told Dad, "She won't even remember the series name!"
They knew me. They knew I hate many things they tend to like. But I look beside my bed, and there's a pile of new cookbooks there, waiting to be unwrapped. Next to the books are my baby fig plants, spread into three tiny pots. I kept a pack of sunflower seeds in the jewelry box, waiting for the right day-off to plant them. And it's only 8 PM on the evening, but I'm on my sweat pants and socks, facing the TV in any sleepy ways. I'm pretty sure I'd hit the sack within the next two hours. Gardening, Cooking, Early-sleeping. What's going on?
Mom stared at the phone and said, "You know, it's funny that our interest is so different."
"I know. I will never watch the India series ever. Can't understand why you like it so much."
But maybe I will. Because certainly, all I'm becoming lately is nothing else than you and Dad. The boring, non-dangerous adult I used to hate. The easy, simple living I used to loathe. The loving, caring person I used to be overwhelmed with. I'm becoming like Mom, becoming like Dad.
And I don't mind that at all.