Wednesday, 16 November 2016

When Your Parents Discover You're Not Who They Think You Are

When Your Parents Discover You're Not Who They Think You Are

I'm from a very close family. I have a great relationship with my parents, and we get on pretty well. I go on days out with my mum, and will go down the pub with my dad. In some ways, we're like friends, but in others, they are very much my parents and I their child. What I have slowly been realising lately is that they see me differently from how I see myself. I'm 29, a grown woman, but as someone a lot younger who is in need of looking after.

I'm known for being scatty, and can be a bit slow on the uptake. This can range from small things, like only laughing a few seconds after hearing a joke once I've understood it, or not laughing at all and saying, "I don't get it," to larger things like politics. I do find politics pretty difficult to understand, and I'm always asking lots of questions to try and get my head around what's being said and what's happening - especially since becoming a feminist. It's just not a topic where understanding comes easy to me. I'm also quite silly, always making a joke or a fool of myself, and I can get quite excitable over things others wouldn't necessarily bat an eyelid at. So I can understand with these two aspects of my personality, how they may see me a quite a bit younger. And it's with the attitude of, "This is just who Jo is - and that's ok."

Although these are aspects of my personality, I think it blinds them to the rest of me, and they are sometimes surprised by the daughter they have. I am a grown up, and I can have serious, deep conversations, I can talk about things that are important to me. Yes, daisies and rainbows might put a huge smile on my face and exclaim in delight, but I have thoughts and opinions on things I feel strongly about.

Having such conversations with my mum, it's obvious how surprised she is. We don't always necessarily agree, though she can always see where I'm coming from. But the conversations are always underscored with surprise, "Where is all this coming from?" I am relatively new to feminism, but I have always had strong opinions on a variety of topics, such as mental health and human rights, but they just may not have come up in our conversation before.

Another example is recently we watching a chat show that was discussing sex, and we were talking about the topic in general, and it was like she decided we needed to have The Sex Talk, because I'm still a virgin. I had to explain that I already know everything she had to say, I know my own mind, and "I may be a virgin, but I'm not a child. I'm a grown woman and quite comfortable having adult conversations about it, and asking, 'What do you like? How do you like it? Show me how.'" She was flabbergasted and flustered, and completely didn't know what to say. She was completely shocked that I not only don't have a problem talking about it, but that I'm grown up enough to be able to have such a conversation with a guy.

With Dad, we'll be out at the pub and suddenly we'll be having drunken discussions about various topics we disagree on, and he's surprised at how well I argue my point. I've actually been able to argue sufficiently enough to change his views, and this isn't what he expects from his airy-fairy daughter who sits with her books.

It's kind of a surprise to me that they haven't seen this is who I am - as far as I'm concerned, this is who I've always been. I guess I just maybe haven't been having the right conversations with my parents for them to see it. Rather than be offended,  though, I'm looking forward to showing them I'm not quite the person they thought I was, and to our relationship growing as their idea of me changes.

This post was inspired by Laura Jane Williams' #AskTheQuestion.

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