No matter where we go or what we do in life, there will always be one constant obligation: going home.
I’ve been going home since I left for sleepaway camp at age 8. And then it was for summer adventures at age 16.
And then I was going home again, less often, when I went away for college. And now, just a 45-minute ride away, I still find myself going home.
While the act of going home never really changes, the experience when you’re there is different every time.
Our perception of our parents develops. Space and age allow us to view them more objectively. And whether we like it or not, we start to see our parents as individuals, with real feelings and anxieties and mistakes.
It’s almost like a tangible loss of innocence. You finally realize there’s more to these people than simply “mom” and “dad.”
It doesn’t mean you love them any less, it just means you’re entering a new facet of your relationship.
Remember though, it takes growing up on your part to appreciate the grownups in your life.
Here are the realizations you have about your parents after age 25.
1. You are actually their world
Whether it’s stocking the fridge for the short weekend you’ll be home or putting a pause on work at the office, you always come first. They’ll sacrifice literally anything for you, including their own desires.
Sometimes, this can make you feel sad, like how Mom reluctantly moved to the suburbs so you could have a good school system or how Dad has worked two jobs just to support your college degree. It makes you wonder if you could ever be that selfless.
2. They flip flop on their feelings
What Mom says, goes, right? It gets more confusing when she changes her mind about something she used to hold on to so firmly. You think what they say is the absolute, until you realize they are dynamic people, too.
Your parents opinions change: One day they might love your out-of-state school, the next they might refuse to help pay for it.
As you grow up, you realize the biggest constant in life is change, and the same is true of your parents’ feelings.
3. They have demons and a past and scars just like you do
You won’t forget the time you got arrested or the car accident or the unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Those experiences become a part of who you are and stay there, even after you’ve had kids.
It’s hard to imagine our parents having lives before us, but when you do you come to understand the reasons behind their behaviors.
4. They’re not happy all the time
And that’s OK. Just because they put on a brave face every day for you doesn’t mean they don’t experience pain and misery sometimes.
It’s hard to see our parents unhappy, especially when they do everything to make sure we aren’t. Everyone has a rough day or bad moment, it’s just tough to watch someone you love go through it.
5. They won’t baby you forever
Your parents want to retire at some point, which means they’ll return some of the focus back to themselves.
They might move out of your childhood home and forget about hosting Friday night dinner. They might turn your room into a library.
At some point though, they’re going to cut the cord and make you do it on your own. They just want to make sure you can be completely independent when they’re no longer around.
6. They know how to have fun
You used to think Mom was a total loser for throwing a New Year’s Eve party at the house instead of going out. Now you realize she had it right all along.
You never thought Dad was cool for playing poker with his middle-aged pals, but now you can’t wait for him to teach you how to gamble.
For most of your adolescent life, you view your parents as the anti-fun when, in reality, they are having a better time than you and Netflix on a Tuesday. You legitimately want to be friends with them.
7. There will be a time you have to be their parents
One of the hardest parts of growing up is also watching your parents getting older. You become more and more aware of their own mortality and the importance of good health.
You stop taking for granted their mental stability and ability to care for you, and you start imagining what it will be like to care for them.
8. They don’t know everything
You’re old enough now to recognize your parents don’t have the answers to everything. In fact, they have now started asking you about things and information.
Despite being older, role model figures, they can be just as clueless about life as you are. You can go to them for anything, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always be able to help.
9. They are still scared of being adults too
Your worries are becoming the same -- money, future, savings, health. It makes you realize growing up doesn’t get any easier and your parents can be insecure as well.
Just because they can manage you does not mean they are better at managing themselves. The reason they understand you so well? They’re going, or have gone, through it too.
10. They are(n’t) really good at cooking
You never appreciated cooking skills until you moved out and now have to hunt and gather for yourself. Maybe you realized Mom is actually pretty great for a self-taught chef or maybe you realize her pasta and meatballs are actually not that tasty.
Regardless, after feeding yourself on your own, you recognize there's nothing like a home-cooked meal.
11. They need love just as much as you do
Your parents are still people with real wants and needs and desires. They have passion, even if they haven’t been able to fulfill it, which is why they are most passionate about the family they do have.
They need your love as well -- why else are they begging you to come visit so often and calling you every day just to check in? They want to hear and feel you love them.
12. You don’t have to agree with them
Mom and Dad can be wrong a lot. You’re your own person now and you have your own well-formulated opinions that may not align with your parents’.
It’s OK to see things differently based on your own experiences. You’re old enough to disagree with your parents, but you’re still young enough to take their advice on things.
13. They’re flawed humans
They make mistakes. They cry. They can be mean. They can say things they don’t mean. They mess up, big time.
Your parents are still learning from their actions, even in their quest to do the right thing. You can’t be perfect all the time, just like they taught and have accepted from you.
14. They have a favorite... they just won’t tell you
It rhymes with “shempty shnest.”