From childhood we wanted to be independent. We wanted to manage our own lives, sleep when we wanted, eat when and what we wanted, and do whatever we wanted. We wanted to have our own say and be respected as individuals. But what we didn’t realize was that our identity is entwined with our families.
Our families represent where we come from, how we’ve grown up, and what we are genetically. Our parents’ habits, good and bad, trickle through to us whether or not we are conscious of it. The silent communication of personal preferences and body language our family has influences our own behavior. Like it or not, our families define who we are.
When we finally turn 18, when we finally get out on our own, to college or work, when we are independent and in control of our lives, only then do we realize how much we do appreciate our families. For they are a stable base, representing a schedule of regular meals, sleeping hours, and expectations. We didn’t need to stay up until 4am working on projects because our parents would have been against it. But now, our time is our own, for better or for worse.
Now we need to manage our own affairs. We need to control how we spend, realizing that the meal we just bought was one hour’s paycheck. We understand what labor means. We need to find time to eat instead of being told to. We need to stop ourselves from loitering instead of depending on our parents’ restrictions.
Our families are forever on our minds, but we are ashamed to admit it. We talk about our families to others, expounding on all the quirks and achievements of those related to us. We have an inner longing for childhood family vacations, when the world was far less complicated. So we return home, to visit, after a bout of independence.
But when we want to share and enjoy the comforts of family warmth, we return home and find that everyone else in our families is rushing on with their own lives and are too busy to hear ours. The identity we had discovered in our family is somehow lost. Younger siblings are moving on to college and going away. Parents are shifting focus from their maturing children to other goals in life. We are no longer needed at home; the household runs smoothly without us. When we return home we don’t really have a place, a niche we’ve carved out for ourselves, because we have become intermittent guests and not residents. We share, yet we do not partake, in the daily life of our families. We have been away too long. We have embraced independence, and all its responsibilities. But we do not know who we are, because our identities are tied to a family that we must learn to separate ourselves from.
We must mature. We must realize that the weight of the world is on our shoulders now. Yet we can hope that someday, we will have families of our own. And then we’ll be home.