Congratulations on reaching adulthood.
You’ve probably realized by now that taking care of yourself is no easy task. Getting groceries, watching dishes, maintaining an apartment, holding down a job, learning, growing, making friends, keeping good health – all of this is just part of your responsibility as an adult.
Now consider that your parent had to do all of that for themselves while also being fully responsible for the needs of three year-old you, or fourteen-year old you.
Then remember how you felt about your parents at three, or at fourteen.
You were an ungrateful, ignorant brat.
You didn’t take care of yourself. You didn’t thank your parents. You didn’t provide too much value back to them (at least, not intentionally). And you probably still criticized them.
You didn’t know what it takes to live an adult life. And to be fair, how could you?
But now you know. And with knowledge comes responsibility. Go back (or call back) and tell your parents “thank you” for their tenacity in doing the hard work of caring for two. You might want to consider apologizing if you were a particularly ungrateful, snobbish, know-it-all teenager (like I was).
Yes, your parents made mistakes. Don’t gloss over that. Don’t whitewash the things that suck about being in someone else’s care (there are genuine frustrations and unfairnesses). But seriously, don’t underestimate the work your parents put in to keep you alive.
Take time to tell them what you’ve learned about life. Take time to show them admiration and gratitude for the skill, patience, and responsibility of caring for you. This is one way you can meet them as an (appreciative) equal – as an adult – – and give some value back.
One day, you’ll be a parent, too, and when that time comes, you’re going to be put through the same wringer. Start modeling gratitude and humility now, and maybe your kids will call to thank you one day, too.