A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Bonds or baggage?

Posted by Pepper on October 1, 2012

So it’s been 6 whole months since I moved back to India. I can’t believe how seamlessly I have blended into life at home, with my parents and sister. I thought I’d spend all my time whining for Mint, but I am happy to note, I don’t spend more than a few hours whining for him everyday. Quite an achievement, isn’t it? Also, we get to visit each other quite often, so it hasn’t been too bad. I am living it up in Mumbai – the city of my childhood. Along with the joys of living with my parents, I have the added joy of being surrounded by friends. School friends, building friends, junior colleges friends, degree college friends, other miscellaneous friends, what’s there to not love? But the more I love being here, the more I fear having to leave this city soon. No, not because of the friends. I can acquire new friends elsewhere. But because of my parents. The thought of moving away from them makes me incredibly sad.

And then I sit to ponder, why is it that I find it so hard to live away from my parents? Why is it that my parents find it so hard to be away from us? When I think about it, almost *all* my friends are living away from their parents, in different cities, if not different countries. They aren’t exactly unhappy. They are managing just fine. Why do we feel this overpowering pull towards each other then?

It’s not just me, but my parents too. Each time, they assure me to go ahead and live my life where I want to, they will be fine. But each time, I see how lonely they get when the sister and I are out of the house for a few days. I realise my parents have made a mistake. They have built their entire life around their children, without ever pausing to build a life for their ownselves. So when we aren’t around, they don’t quite know what to do with their lives.

My mom was working in a big airline company. She quit her job when she was expecting me. I am not judging her choice. She said she didn’t want anything more than spending time with her children. My mother isn’t the typical mother who enjoys making pickles and knitting sweaters either. She doesn’t have too many domestic interests. So other than her children, she had nothing else to focus on. Which suited us well, at that time. I have the best memories of running into mama’s arms the moment we got out of our school bus. The sister and I would spend our afternoons with her reading to us, playing word games. And then we would lay sprawled on a rug, doing our homework with periodic supervision. In the evenings, we would either go downstairs to play with the other kids, or we would go to the park with mama. My dad would come home in the evenings, and on special days, we would go to the Worli sea face. Sometimes we went for movies, sometimes we ate out. My parents were busy raising us and giving us a happy childhood. We were a happy family.

Our bonds ran as deep as the oceanic abyss. I realised, I loved spending time with my parents. They were our best friends. My school friends on the other hand, mainly considered their parents only to be disciplinarian figures. Some of them were close to their parents, but they still had boundaries to deal with. They couldn’t have the same kind of open communication with their parents. I felt proud to have the parents I did.

As I grew though, I realised that my parents hardly spent time with each other alone. The sister and I were always around. They hated going out without us. On the rare occasion they did, they would call us every hour to find out how we were doing. They would come back and embrace us hungrily, as though being away from us had been a very painful experience. What about couple time, I would ask them? Why don’t you enjoy yourselves when you are gone? They’d say their kids are their greatest joy, and without us, they feel incomplete.

The sister and I grew up. We started spending extended hours out of the house. My parents would wait for our return. I would be waiting to get back home. The moment we were all home, it was a happy reunion of sorts, though we’d only been away for a few hours. We would spend time catching up with each other, talking about our day, about what was in the news and then proceed to eat a happy meal together. When we were not home, my mom would spend time putting together our favourite meals, mentally yelling at us as she went about cleaning up the messy house and doing other sundry jobs. When the sister and I are not at home, my parents really don’t know what to look forward to. The house is empty. There is no mess to clear. Nobody to demand a meal. They feel the emptiness and long for the mess and the noise.

At the end of the day, I feel sad. I wish my parents had spent more time pursuing their interests, being more social and in general, living life for their own selves too. It’s not just them. When I am away from them, I yearn for them despite having a full day. I do think I have built a life for myself to an extent, and if I still long for them, how much harder must it be for them? Have we done something wrong? I see my other friends living their life without the distance burdening them, and I keep wondering.. Why am I the only one who feels this separation anxiety?

My parents gave us all the security, comfort and companionship we needed while we were growing up. Unfortunately, that also led to us being heavily dependent on them. Mint had a very different upbringing. He hardly converses with his parents. Yes, they talk about what needs to be spoken about, but they never chat with each other aimlessly. While growing up, his parents were just people who nagged him about his habits. Not more than that. Right from childhood, his parents closed mindedness never let them see eye to eye. As a result, they realised discussions were futile. Leading secret lives was easier. So he isn’t even remotely attached to his parents. While that makes me sad, I also realise he is the one able to live a more carefree life. He is happy wherever he is, not yearning for his parents. He lives without baggage whereas I am buckling under its weight.

A lot of my other friends who were not as close to their parents sail in the same boat as Mint. They are at peace living in a different city. The parents have accepted the distance. Of course, the said friends love their parents as much, despite it all, they have learnt to take the distance in their stride. Why am I so weak then? I left USA and came running back to them. Now as I live here happily, I worry about a future in a different city. Is it because I know my parents have nothing else to look forward to? Is it the price we are paying for building bonds that bind us to each other? After all, blind attachment and dependency are known to be bad words.

And then there are some people who are exceptionally close to their parents, despite the parents and children having built independent lives. They put up with the distance. Perhaps with mild heartache at times. But they are happy. Why can’t we be like that? Why can’t our independent lives and our love for each other run parallelly? Why does my need for them intersect with my life at every step? I feel happier and more secure living within those intersections. But can I really afford to do that?

Perhaps my parents have made a mistake by making us the very foundation of their lives. Perhaps we have made a mistake by leaning on those foundations so heavily. But all that is done cannot be reversed. Now I only hope I am not put in a situation in which I am made to test my resistance. And if I am, I hope my parents and I pull along and learn to build a life for ourselves. I hope love triumphs over need.

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61 Responses to “Bonds or baggage?”

  1. i can truly relate to this post.. i was away from my parents for three years, my mom was counting days when i’ll come back..finally i did come back but i’ll leave again next year and i can see that fear in my mom’s eyes. she has always lived for me and my siblings and when she actually needed us, no one was there with her. now when i am in home she wants me around her all the time.she cant sleep without me studying next to her. i dread that moment when i’ll again leave her next year. 😦
    some bonds can never be replaced.. but that’s how life is..

  2. Bhavani said

    Hi Pepper, Dont know what to say…..I guess some of us are quite practical:) I am pretty close to my parents..but it has been 15 yrs since I got married and have been away…and though I miss them a lot at times…..we have come to peace with the situation and are okay…..

    If living in Mumbai might not be a permanent thing for you in the future, you have to become emotionally strong….and within India anyways you should be a 1-2 hrs flight away….

    • Pepper said

      As long as you are at peace with your situation, it’s all good. I could never be at peace in USA. I couldn’t really make peace with the fact that my parents were longing for me. I tried, but it didn’t work. I wanted to be with them so much.

      And yes, I will have to become emotionally strong if I have to move out of Mumbai. Most cities are just a 2 hour flight away. But then, how feasible is it to meet often when you live in different cities? With a job and limited leave, it’s always hard. If you throw in kids to this mix, it becomes even more complex. You got to take into account their vacations and calenders as well. I guess what I really want is for my kids to grow up around their grandparents, not meet them twice a year. Sigh.

  3. Pepper, I come from a joint family. I am very close to my parents & my siblings but when destiny made me live miles away from them, I accepted it although hardheartedly & I think my parents also accepted this. We all miss each other, keep chatting on phone but we have learned to live far away from each other. I mean to say we are not dependent on each other. I do miss them and always yearn to be with them but they don’t. They have everyone at home so I think that’s why they don’t miss me that much.

    While PK has lived with his parents & BIL, in single family. PK & BIL can live without their parents but the in-laws are unable to live their life without kids,they always want to know what PK & BIL are doing & each & every details of them. They crave to be with their kids. I think my in-laws have also made a mistake of making their sons foundation of their life.

    I think members of small families are very close to each other & when any one person is not at home they don’t know what to do while it’s not the same in joint families as they have some or other person to keep them busy & give them company. Also, I feel that girls are more attached to their parents than boys. Like in Mint’s case & in PK’s case, they don’t yearn to be with their parents, while we girls always want to be with them.
    Just my thoughts, no intention to hurt you or anyone 🙂 I hope your parents & your wishes are fulfilled & I will pray that you & your parents are never put in the situation where you have to live very far from your parents. Hugs!! 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Sweets, from what I understand after reading your blog, I think your inlaws are a different story altogether. There is a difference between longing for your children and wanting to own them. I don’t think wanting to know every detail about your child’s life is the best way to be. I know you realise that too.

      I would say our relationship and situation is quite different. We yearn for each other, but don’t really expect much, unlike how it is with your inlaws. 🙂
      Thanks for praying for us. How can a comment as gentle as this one hurt me? Hugs! 🙂

  4. We are the SAME ! No kiddin’ seriously. Not ditto ditto, but in essence, yes, 100%. Including hubby’s backgrounds. Well, given this striking similarity I see, it is envious to see you being able to sound it out before making a decision. (yeah, basically I’m jealous that you are younger! and are thinking about this pre-kids; LOL!)
    Instead of questioning the bond, I beg of you to please work around it. You are blessed to have such parents. Your children will be born into treasure. Seriously. I was an oaf to not have recognized this angle. I merely followed my husbands’ footsteps more out of a conventional (conditioned??) mindset and didn’t even stop to think if other options existed. Today, I’ve already walked along one path of the fork. Going back to the V is going to topple many lives. There was nothing stopping me then, nothing stopping me now. But there is a time when it is the right time and anytime after that, isn’t. We keep visiting each other for prolonged periods, but when I had the chance, I should have built my life around them. Today I see many girls do the same and it works out beautifully for everyone. Parents are aging and now it hits me even more. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to be there for them, when it matters. So why not from well before? Think about it. Cherish the bond – don’t question or fight it. Its a treasure few can truly enjoy 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Good to know you guys are the same! Ofcourse I know we’re blessed. Actually, I really don’t know if I agree with the concept of the right time. Anytime is the right time, I think. I’ve known people who’ve moved back when their kids were 10 and 12. Btw, do you read Deej? She moved back when her son was 9, I think. Ultimately, it depends on how you take it. Whether you see it as a life toppling event, or you consider it to be a opportunity to do things your heart desires – even if it comes with challenges. Having said that, I do agree, certain times are easier than other times. I know one reason I moved back at the time I did was because we didn’t have kids who would be forced to readjust. That makes things relatively simpler.

      I do treasure the bond. But like I said, I worry too. What if I don’t get to be in the same city as my parents? I know Mint didn’t really want to move back to India. He loved living in the US. He moved back only for my sake. Now I think it is unreasonable to force him to be in the city of my choice too. If he is placed elsewhere, I wouldn’t want him to let go of a good offer and compromise on his job just to live in Bombay. So I ask the universe to give him the best job in this city. But I know I shouldn’t count on it. Heck, I shouldn’t over think!

      • Moving to India is constantly in my thoughts. I just might go ahead and take the plunge one day. Please can you give me a link to Deej? I would love to know her story. In my case, it isn’t strictly about the children’s age. There’s a fuzzy cloud around the decision. But yeah, I see what you mean. The day the voice from within calls out, the fuzziness disappears.

        Basically I wanted to let you know that accepting them as a constant in your present and future life, it makes it easier on yourself. I was constantly reminded that I have to move on, have a life of my own, etc. So I kind of had to swim against the tide. In reality, it isn’t so. If I had the clarity that they should be a part and parcel of my life, I would have made decisions that would find all of us happier today. The details of how, for how long, where, etc.would fill in as life progressed. In fact, for your situation, I see it work out both ways. If Mint lands a super plum job in Mumbai, its a dream. If that happens to be in any other city, work it out in such a way that your parents will be living with you. Not a permanent move, (maybe even that, much later) but plan in such a way that they can come anytime and stay for however long they wish, because I understand it may not be easy for you to travel back and forth to Mumbai all the time. Luckily for you, your sis lives in India too. In my case, my bro lives in the UK and sis in India. For a few years, we shared them 3 ways and Boy! It took a toll on them. None of us realized it and no there was no bitterness. They were younger then and kept travelling to whichever child their heart called out to, at that point in time. But now, none of us wants them to do that kind of international travel anymore. Travelling within India wouldn’t be as tiring and would in fact be a welcome change to both your parents and your sis anytime she wants to visit you. Believe me, the joy of hosting them in your own home is something else!

        • Pepper said

          Deej (Lavanya), hardly blogs anymore. But I guess you can go through her archives to know how she planned and dealt with the move. She blogs at http://www.lavanyad.com/home/

          I guess I know what you mean. I don’t want to be swimming against the tide. They are an integral part of my life, and there is no denying that. I won’t be resisting the forces. I just hope it all falls into place by itself, without me having to work out an alternate plan. I suppose I am greedy. I don’t feel content with the idea of them visiting me. I want to have them around in the same city. But there is only so much I can do. After that, I should let go, and work on the next best arrangement.

  5. I dont believe it is entirely true, peppy. The fact that your bonds are so strong with your parents is not because their life revolved around their children. They are strong because you guys are so connected and are more like friends with each other than you seeing your parents as disciplinarian figures.
    Life revolving around children is one thing and being connected with your children (even though you might have other hobbies etc) is a different thing. I have seen so many parents who have absolutely no interest in life apart from their kids. But the bonds are not there.
    Of course, you know your bond with your parents better, so my reasoning doesn’t really count! 😀 And I can totally identify with moving back to be closer to parents. I will be doing the same..Visiting them once a year just doesn’t fit in my mind.

    • Pepper said

      Oh yes, ofcourse. That’s what I tried saying too, actually. I’ve known friends who share strong bonds with their parents, despite having independent lives. So obviously the inverse is true too. You can build your life around your parents/kids, and yet not be close to them. I was just wishing my parents did have independent lives – so that the distance doesn’t bite as much.

  6. Ashwathy said

    but I am happy to note, I don’t spend more than a few hours whining for him everyday.
    LOL! 😀 Love your honesty 😉

    They have built their entire life around their children, without ever pausing to build a life for their ownselves. So when we aren’t around, they don’t quite know what to do with their lives.
    I cannot quite relate to this, since most of my life I’ve lived between two cities or more, travelling between both parents who were separated by the time I was 11. But then my in-laws fall into this pattern, and I now understand why hubby is so super attached to them. Even though right now he is living away from them, they might us visit more often once we are financially more stable. He’d like them around forever…and it was difficult for me to understand initially, but now I do. They are adorable to have around…and so incredibly selfless…that it was a totally new experience for me.

    They’d say their kids are their greatest joy, and without us, they feel incomplete.
    You are blessed to have been born to parents like that 🙂 Not that you don’t know it already.

    I see my other friends living their life without the distance burdening them, and I keep wondering.. Why am I the only one who feels this separation anxiety?
    I see this in my hubby too. A certain amount of guilt (not sure if that is right word) and the longing to want to be there for them forever. It’s like he owes it to them. Not that I don’t want to be there for my parents, but this is different. I hope you get what you are saying.

    Listen, don’t over-think so much. Instead, feel blessed you have such wonderful parents. They are not your interfering,annoying clingy category…so having them around is a blessing in itself. And why are you even worrying about a different city right now?? There’s time yet!! Learn to work your way around it. I know it seems easy to say, but it’s not so bad if you think about it. Let’s talk… we’ll discuss it out 🙂

    • Pepper said

      While I may not necessarily want to live in the same house as my parents (Mumbai homes are small!), I would really like being in the same city. That way, we can visit each other spontaneously, every few days. Visits don’t have to be planned a month in advance. When it comes to in laws, they usually stay in the same house if they are in the same city. I guess you are comfortable with the idea of living with your inlaws cos they seem to be very sweet, non interfering people. I doubt I’d be okay living with mine. So good for you I say! You can always consider that in the future.. 🙂

      Regarding your kids being your greatest joy, that is great. But you feeling incomplete without your kids? I am not sure how good that is. If and when we have kids, I am sure we’ll love them in ways we didn’t think were possible, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to feel incomplete without them. Oh I am saying this now. Let’s see how things go.

      I know, I know. There is time for me to start worrying about being in a different city. I should shut up 😀 And yes, we’ll talk at length 🙂

  7. swatimital said

    This is such a heart wrenching post. Maybe your parents could relocate to where you have to be. It’s so nice that you are close to your parents. There are many who aren’t. I am sure something will work out because you love each other so much.

    • Pepper said

      I don’t think my parents would be comfortable relocating. Expecting them to do it at this age is a bit unfair, I think. They’ve been born in Mumbai, lived here all their life, have their whole social set up here, included all our extended family. They wouldn’t be able to adapt elsewhere with ease, and I wouldn’t want them to be out of their element.

  8. Kartikay said

    Wow. Quite deep. Change is difficult, but you will find a new equilibrium and so will your parents. Yes!

    #SuchIsLife

  9. Jazz said

    It is great to have such wonderful parents Pepper, and you are right about some parents being disciplinarian figures. Mine are, but they are not too strict, I mean they never stopped us from pursuing what we liked.

    You know when I had to leave home for my job, I was happy to be stepping into a new world and loved it. But my parents missed me, the monthly visits to home made me miss them too, but I liked living with my friends in a different city, and slowly my parents accepted that I have flown and for the better.

    I think what worked for them then was they got busy with my other siblings like another commenter said. We are 5, 3 of them still studying. But your post made me think of the future, when all the kids might be away. I really hope they plan accordingly and have something to look forward to. They keep saying they will shift back to their own house back to the native place, Bhubaneswar, which I think would be good with many relatives around, might miss us less.

    I also hope I’m always there for them when they need me, I’d like to be just a call away. We have planned to build our house in Bbsr too, but shift only after retirement. 😐

    It is similar with Imran, his parents have stayed away from the kids due to work and there is no compulsion to stay together now, unless we are in the same city which is again unlikely.

    I really wish you and Mint land your dream jobs in Mumbai or around, living in the same city or near your parents will work great for you. Maybe you can plan that way. 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I think it makes a big difference when your parents have more kids. My maternal grandmom had 6 kids. So although 2 of them lived in USA all along, she still had a very full life with all her other children and grandchildren around. Today, that scenario is not very relevant. We don’t have more than 1 or 2 kids. So I guess planning and investing time in your own life is a wise idea.

      My parents have all their relatives in this city too. I know they don’t think it makes up for anything in anyway though. 🙂

  10. R said

    My dad left last morning to go see my grandparents and spend the day with them. The three of us (ma, sis and me) stayed home as my aunt and cousin were coming over for lunch. It was a happy, hearty lunch and we had all dozed off into a nice post- meal snooze, when we got a call from dad. He had been driving Thatha to a doctor’s place and had dozed off at the wheel and the car had driven off the road and turned turtle. Long story short, the two of them miraculously escaped with minor injuries. The evening though passed in multiple hospitals and scans and xrays and it was late night, by the time of both of them cleared all the medical tests and were declared ok.
    As I lay in bed last night, I thought of your post of when your dad had fallen ill and you were still in the US. And a full understanding of what you meant. These events happened 2 hours away from me and yet I had felt so helpless last evening. Imagine being ten thousand miles away. I don’t think I can ever handle it, Pepper. Given how similar your family and the bonds are, to mine, I know how gut- wrenching the very thought is. I just hope things work themselves out and you never have to make such painful choices.

  11. Dear Pepper – Thoroughly understand…Parents do feel the “Empty Nest – Syndrome” but in your case it’s a more painful pinch because of being really close knit.
    My family is close -knit but the difference is in my parents continued with their interests and social life (service oriented kind). Mom remained a teacher even after we were born and she is still working. Dad continued his interest in social service as an addition to his full time job ; May be they just -did so because they were mentally preparing themselves as having two daughter would mean the daughters are going to get married some day and fly away to build their own nests. When it came to both me and my sis flying out of our home it was much easier for my parents to carry on with life with just anticipating our return and on regular phone calls. The best part is that my sis lives 10 mins away from my parents home unlike me who lives an ocean away.
    I strongly recommend that every individual should develop their own interests and keep themselves occupied whilst building bonds to cope with situations where you miss the people you love….Good Read..Nice Post Pepper…I’m just wondering how I want to be with my lil darling M 🙂

    • Pepper said

      You know, when I think about it now, I don’t think my parents ever considered a situation in which their children wouldn’t be in the same city. We (my whole family – included all extended members) have lived here for generations. Everybody is born and brought up in Bombay. Everybody continues to live here. I don’t think they ever considered another possibility. Now times have changed. We’re all being shuffled. To add to it, I went ahead and got married to somebody who isn’t from this city. They wouldn’t have anticipated all this 🙂 Had they thought of it, they probably wouldn’t have been this ill equipped.

      Your parents seem to be living the ideal life. They are social and independent, and they also have their daughter living so close. Sounds perfect to me 🙂

      • True Pepper – I’m glad that my parents built the planned lives themselves after good foresightedness anticipating their daughters may fly far away from their hometowns…Pepper you know – J’s case is a little different J’s – mom and sis’s are really close knit but when it comes to J he just like talks to his parents twice a month and is absolutely fine with it. Just like what you had mentioned about Mint.
        For me – I will feel choked if i don’t talk to my parents at least once a day. I think it’s a more of a daughter thing..that the attachment with parents just comes naturally !
        Not too late Pepper – Just get to discover what your parents love doing…like social service or gardening (like your Dad), story telling for underprivileged kids..like what RM did recently – just do your part – explore options in Mumbai and while you are with them now – just get them tied to such events or organisations that they just start their social life and have it going…
        So when it’s time for you or your sis to fly out of their nest..they will continue to do something for themselves… Keep themselves busy and will enjoying life.. their way !

        • Pepper said

          You are right. I should encourage my parents to take up different activities even now. My dad is still working, so I guess he won’t have the energy or the enthusiasm to engage in other tasks after he is back from work. My mom, yes. I should try finding something appropriate for her, for which she doesn’t have to go too far.

  12. ashreyamom said

    what do i say pepper.. even now i am dependent on my parents.. i need to call them twice a day.. a day without talking to each other means something is really wrong.. this was routine till i got married( and it is still, only the timings changed). so when i got married and went for my honeymoon, my parents expected me to call them after reaching station, reaching the resort and after dinner so say everything was fine. at that time i felt it was too much, they are interfering too much, but after having bunty, when i call home to check her whereabouts, i can understand my parents feeling..
    my parents till say, if we are not around( me n sis), they feel house is empty and dont even talk to each other.
    thank god that, they have found new sets of friends and community to keep them busy now a days. 🙂

  13. Oh this gave me so much food for thought. I’m incredibly close to my parents too…my sister moved out recently to pursue her MBA and I might possibly move soon too. I used to worry how my parents would manage but now, seeing how they are keeping themselves occupied over the past few months, I’m feeling so much better. They’d be lost for a few months initially but overall, I think they’ll be fine with careers and friends to keep them occupied.

    I think its very important for parents to have an independent life of their own… I still know that my sister and I are the centre of their worlds but I’m hopeful they’ll manage decently even with a little distance 🙂

    I’m sure something will work out – you guys managed being in the US and them being here! Love will triumph 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I am glad you are confident your parents will be happy and occupied even in your absence. Don’t think beyond that.
      Yes, we managed with us being in the US, but I always knew at the back of my mind that I would come home to them someday. That made it easier. But now, life just seems to get more complex 🙂

  14. Smita said

    There are no rights or wrongs as far as relationships are concerned because every situation is unique and every one treats relationships differently. What matters is that whatever has already happened and the fact is that you guys are very close. You might be right in saying that your parents should have made a life for themselves also but this is what they chose right? So let it be….I can also say that you need to be practical and all that shit but I also know it isn’t possible! So chill, face the situation (i.e. movign out) when it comes why worry from now?
    You know my In Laws are so much into eachother that they are not very close their sons. Not that they have not cared for them or ignored them but yes once they moved out of their house (their sosn i.e.) my In laws got busy in their own lives. Now with my BIL suffering from kidney related disease my MIL blames herself for neglecting him (not that she is right in doing that). As far as my parents are concerned, they have created a perfect balance. They are as involved in our lives as they are with eachother. Somehow I like that and wish could be like them.

    • Pepper said

      Actually, I am not sure why this post seems to imply that my parents aren’t involved with each other. Heck, they are! They can’t be without each other. Their involvement with each other is independent of the longing for their children. It’s just that their idea of ‘complete’ can only be defined with the presence of their kids. As they see it, only our little family completes them. By no means did I mean to say that my parents ache for us because they aren’t content being with each other. If at all, I wish they had taken up alternate hobbies. My mom enjoys writing. My dad does spend a lot of time gardening. They should have added more such activities to their day.

      I am very sorry to hear about your BIL’s kidney problem. My dad’s brother, who I am extremely close to has been a kidney patient for years. I am very well versed in this area. If you would like any help/information from me regarding nephrologists, dialysis treatments, kidney transplants, controlling creatinine levels, please do write to me.

  15. Nisha said

    I have my elder brother and his family living with my parents. They keep my parents so occupied with daily activities that my parents hardly even talk to me on phone. Not that they don’t love me, they just don’t have the time. And I’m ok with that. At the same time, my mother sometimes misses her space and the peace that comes with old age. She yearns to go and live in the hills away from all the stress that a joint family brings with it.

    My in-laws live alone. Their two sons are settled in different cities. We keep meeting time and again. I don’t think my in-laws have spent even two months in a row without seeing the kids. They are like your parents who spent their entire life raising their kids and can’t even go out to watch a movie together. Their loneliness really bothers us. My Mil even suffered clinical depression sometime back. Though we don’t know the exact reason for it, but life ‘without a purpose’ could be one.

    Seeing the two situations, I don’t know which is better. My parents have to deal with daily stress but they are entertained. In-laws have no stress but no entertainment either. I would still choose a third life which I build with my husband. Our culture is changing. We need to have dreams and goals for ourselves which doesn’t involve our children. Both styles of parenting is good as long as you share common interests with your partner and find time to be with each other. Our parents did make mistakes in this area, we should learn from them.

    • Pepper said

      I guess a joint family isn’t exactly suitable for everybody either. I know my parents would dislike living in one too.

      Thankfully, my parents sound way better than your inlaws. They go for movies together. They have their fun in family gatherings and get involved with other stuff too. But. Still. I wanted them to do more with their life. Perhaps I expect too much? I don’t know.

      You said it perfectly well. Our culture is changing. We need to have goals that don’t involve our children. I would expect our kids to move out by 18. After that we are on our own. And if we have nothing else to look forward to, then that is probably our fault.

  16. I have been reading your blog but never commented.. as a mom of 2 myself I can really relate to your mom about making you and ur sis as her universe.. Me and my hubby live in a such a universe as well.. we dont go anywhere leaving our kids to childminders or other people’s house.. although i still work but i reduced my working hours to suit my daughter’s school time.. so am i at work when she is at school… even though i might be yelling like a mad woman most of the times.. i dont want to change anything.. and my daughter is quite content playing/reading / spending time with me.. so when i see other mom’s running to organise play dates.. i have very content babies enjoying each other’s company and our company… i am sure ur mom thought the same.. she wouldnt change it for the world..
    it was the same with my mom… I lost my father very young and am very apprehensive abt my mom leaving alone .. so every year she comes and spends her summer months with me and my brother .. this leads to us not going to india as she travels this side but i dont mind as at the end we spend quality time.. Since marriage i have taken care abt the in laws the same way and the rely on me probably more than their son.. so i think it is possible to take care of ur parents even if u are physically away.. i think what matters to them is that they feel involved in ur lives.. dont worry be near or far remember u are always close to them..

    • Pepper said

      I know you are right. I would probably be able to take care of them even if I am away. Beside that, since they live in a city in which they have family spread all over, I know I don’t need to worry too much. Having said that, I still hope I get to continue being physically close to them. There is something about dining together every few days, shopping together, celebrating life together..
      If it doesn’t work out that way, I hope I accept it gracefully without sulking.

  17. Pri.. said

    It seems as if someone has penned down my feelings and thoughts. I am in a ditto situation as you Pepper,extremely attached to my parents, and always pining to be with them, so much so that i compromise on other parts of my life, just to be with them and doing things that would bring a smile on their faces.

    So is the magic of life…Cheers to all parents, love, family and life!!

  18. Jack Point said

    “So it’s been 6 whole months since I moved back to India. I can’t believe how seamlessly I have blended into life at home, with my parents and sister.”

    Ha ha, I thought you would.

    “Perhaps my parents have made a mistake by making us the very foundation of their lives. Perhaps we have made a mistake by leaning on those foundations so heavily. But all that is done cannot be reversed. Now I only hope I am not put in a situation in which I am made to test my resistance.”

    I sometimes think you worry too much. You seem to have a warm and loving family – it is something that a lot of people would envy, just relax and enjoy what you have.

  19. Sharell said

    I can totally relate and feel your pain. Even though my parents are independent and it’s been more than a decade since I’ve lived with them, it upsets me that I’m so far away from them. I, wrongly, feel responsible for their happiness. I guess it’s particularly bad because I’m an only child and am all they’ve got! I know we’ll end up moving back to Australia one day so I can be close to them.

    • Pepper said

      I am sure it must be harder for you, considering you’re an only child. Moving back to Australia makes sense. I think we make such moves more for our own peace of mine, and less for their need.

  20. YT said

    I am glad your parents at least have each other when you are away. I am in the US trying to get done with my studies, longing for the time when I can head back home to mom. She sacrificed her life in bringing my sister and me up and is left with nothing, but an empty home and failing health now. It just seems so cruel when I think of her returning to an empty home from office. The worst part is that she has been strong for so long that she continues to tell us to go live our life and not worry about her. It only makes it worse. Luckily, I know I want to spend my life in India even before I moved here for studies. It has always been independent of what I feel about my family situation, so it is not going to be a big deal for me to move back. Until then though, I wake up everyday with a fear that something might go wrong before I finish up. I am only one semester from graduating, but I can’t seem to assure myself that everything will be alright and she will be able to come see me take my graduation walk. It wasn’t like this before, but the fear took hold of me this time when I visited home. Though I appreciate the exposure and experiences that I have today, I hate that my country did not have the opportunities that made me leave home. I hope I can make a difference to that when I return. I totally get your post and what you feel. I hope your husband gets a job in your city. Good luck.

    • Pepper said

      I am glad you are so clear about what you want to do. Moving out of the US is a hard decision. If you are sure this is what will give you happiness, then you must go for it. Few people are able to take the plunge though.
      Thanks for wishing us luck YT. I wish you luck too, along with a happy reunion for you and your mum.

  21. metherebel said

    I think I can identify more with the upbringing Mint has had. All I can say is you are blessed to have parents like that. Not many of us have the good fortunate to have friends in parents! More strength to you and your parents!

  22. Jack Point said

    Something just occurred to me, someone else grappled with the pain of departure, absence and the joy of reunion.

    The movements of Beethoven’s Les adieux sonata are entitled “Das Lebewohl”, “Die Abwesenheit” and “Das Wiedersehn” which in translation mean “the farewell”, “the absence” and the “‘Seeing-again’ – the occasion of the return”

    The piece starts solemly and end joyously, try listening to it here, who knows, you may find something inspirational it it ? 😉

  23. I often wonder too.. Does having strong family bond tie you down? Its a similar story i have
    But i think its a blessing..having such a wonderful family.. Look at those around who long for company, for family for nicer parents..
    Yes, it certainly tears your heart to be away from them, and that undeniable pull is always there..The cushioning, the care, the pampering our parents give us in India makes us too dependent…
    Yes, i agree with you that our parents should have invested more time in being social, going out, having more friends and basically having a more balanced life..
    The fact that they didnt and sacrificed everything for us .. makes us more miserable now. We feel compelled to give back, what they gave us so lovingly…without ever complaining

    • Pepper said

      Perhaps the strong bond ties you down to a small extent. All said and done, I will say it is definitely a blessing. Agree with your last line. You not only feel compelled to give back, you truly want to give back with all your heart and soul. It comes so naturally.

  24. (im writing this comment as smartassbride, the mother)

    so we raise kids going mad over them and they grow up and write clinical blog posts abt. how the parents should have built social lives and all. brats i say. i’ll copy paste this and show it to you when junior pepper-mint writes one post like this in future.

  25. Kavs said

    Hugs to you Pepper. A love so deep that it hurts, you are lucky to experience it. Trust me, it’s a blessing.

    Sometimes I want to do is go back to my childhood so I can be the carefree child again, following my parents wherever they went. Sometimes I want to achieve the world that they have dreamed for me. All the time what I really wish for is that they be in front of my eyes. 🙂 Not just my parents but my two younger sisters as well. But here we are, living in faraway lands, seeking solace with vonage and skype. But I know that in my future, we will live together happily. With our careers, husbands, extended families, (and the yet-to-be born kids) it will be crazy, but it will be fun. 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Yes, it is a blessing. 🙂 I realise it, and I think I should stop thinking beyond that. And yes, here’s hoping you you have a happy, crazy and fun future with your families, careers, husbands, kids and extended families too. I dream of a similar future. 🙂

  26. radha said

    I don’t know if it’s so hard because of the bond, every child-parent has a bond albeit different from others. Me and my brother are very close to our parents, they literally lived for us. when we grew older we both left for college and work adn found partners and lived our lives, that is how it is supposed to be. my mom was incredibly close to grandmom, she infact left college to take care of grandmom, postponed marriage etc., yet she lived away and raised us making us the center of universe. now they are alone they have no interests, no hobbies, nothing to keep them ocupied. they are asking my brother to come back home , he stays in a diff city in india but he doesn’t want to move to chennai, he hated the climate !!!! and he has a life where he lives now, so they turn to me, i can have them come to the US, but they are bored here, I booked a 10 day trip to rajasthan, hotels etc., they HATED it .. bickered the whole time and claimed they were not interested in seeing places.. not religious, so there goes that . no hobbies, not too close to relatives . so they are stuck. i feel terrible but at the same time i don’t want to go back home. what to do such is life. My hubby on the other hand is also from a tight knot family but his parents are living up the retired life, my in-laws are in the next few weeks going to Hongkong/thailand with friends , they travel a LOT mostly within india , they have wonder intheir eyes and they are so glad the kids are out. it’s like they broke free. yet they have a tight bond. they canchat when we visit all night long and have fun. yet they let us go without any issues…
    ohh sometimes i wish my parents were easy like that… I think everyone should build their life and be happy, no one else can make you happy you have to do it for yourself. and you have to give your spouse a chance to form a unit with you and you alone, else i always fear we will be lik emy parents no life without kids…. so i make it a point to now spend time and have interests with hubby, after all in a few yrs we will be empty nesters too…

    • Pepper said

      Like I said, my parents do enjoy travelling, spending time with each other and the likes, but I still wish they would have pursued other interests that would keep them occupied all day. Right now my dad is still working, so that keeps him very busy. But once he retires, I wonder how he will take to a slower life.

      I know parents should build a life of their own. There is a difference between our parents though – mine do not expect me to remain close to them. It is me who likes this arrangement the most. It is what brings me peace and satisfaction and joy. You said this yourself – your parents want you back, you feel terrible, but you do not want to move back. I think that is very different from my situation. My parents and I yearned for each other – they never asked me to come back. Infact, they asked me to rethink my decision when I told them I was coming back. It was ME who WANTED to be with them. I want my kids to grow up around them. So again, I am not sure I can relate this to my parents not having built a life for themselves. Because like I said, I have built a good life, and yet I feel this pull. So I guess it is a complex issue, a combination of various factors.

  27. PK said

    Hello friend,

    I have been in your kind of situation few years back and believe me i was a total emotional wreck. I could not enjoy my initial married life thinking only about my mother. Trust me its absolutely killing to live such a life. Its a burden which crushes us and we are unable to enjoy life in general. Stop feeling guilty. Its unfair. We all have one life and we need to take the full onus of living it with happiness and joy. Agreed parents sacrifice but we need not push ourselves to repay them. Its ok to let go and be for each other with out being clingy and emotionally draining. You need to cut the umbilical cord and learn to live independently. if you keep sacrificing your joys, there will come a stage when you will hate being with your parents, become rude, have regular tiffs, arguments with them. You will end up in a vicious cycle of feeling frustrated, guilty, unhappy and overall your health will suffer. I too learned my lesson the hard way. Today, i am much happy and at peace with myself. In fact my mother has stopped being emotionally clingy and we are having a much healthier relationship with each other. She is old and fragile yet I don’t feel guilty anymore. I visit her when ever time permits.I have set boundaries. I love her but I have learned to love myself too. Earlier, I would neglect myself to make her happy, in the process I lost on living my life . We all should take the onus of keeping ourselves emotionally and physically healthy. That’s the least we can do. Love should set us free, the one which chains us is simply emotional atyachar. Encourage your parents to start investing in themselves. Help them discover their hobbies and passion. Make sure they start having a life beyond you and your sis. By being always around them you are only aggravating the situation. Have faith in god. Wishing you happiness.

    • Pepper said

      Not sure you read my feelings correctly 🙂 Not being with them is what makes me unhappy.. so ultimately, I think we should all aim to do whatever brings us joy. To put it in a few words.. i want to be with them not for their sake, but for my own sake. So the resentment will never arise. I do not neglect myself to make my parents happy. That is not how it does/should work, and I am glad you don’t do that anymore.

      But yes, I know what you mean all the same. Thanks for wishing us happiness. I really hold on to such wishes. 🙂

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