To Visit or Not to Visit

I love my parents. Well, who doesn’t? They raised me all these years, taught me what’s good and what’s not good, tried to teach me to make my own bed, and even instilled in me some values of cleanliness. They are the best parents I could’ve ever asked for, and I even considered giving my dad a “World’s best Dad” mug for his sixtieth birthday—which is all so normal and obvious.

That’s what parents are like; sweet, caring, nurturing, and deserving of our affection and compassion. Nothing wrong with any of those things.

All these aside, though, I still have second thoughts about visiting my parents. I can’t stand the thought of them looking up and down at me with crinkled eyebrows, and commenting I’ve lost far too much weight. I cringe to think of spending two days trying to endure their manipulating talks about saving up to build a house, gaining weight so I look my age, and not cutting my hair any shorter. Home for me is just a weekend of torture.

Is it just me, I often wonder.

And I realise it’s not just me. Most of my friends are like me: Dreading visiting parents. But then I spoke to another colleague. She loves to visit her parents. She plans her weekends in advance and allocates time for everyone that matter to her. She’d set up a movie date with her mother, a dinner with her schoolmate, and a tiny lunch party with the entire family. And when she comes back from home, she’d be downcast for a couple of days in the least.

It was a wonder to me.

And then I realised I don’t hate my parents. Despite being reluctant to visit them, I still care for my parents. So much so that I’d call them up to ensure they take their medication on time. I love spending time with them. I love the little chats my mother and I share while we make a mid-day meal. I cherish holding my dad’s hand while we walk to the grocery store. I crave for those moments when I catch up with their stories, smile at their weak attempts at making jokes, and even when I help them navigate the technology I have trouble with myself. I value those little hours we spend for each other. Nevertheless, every time I enter the house, I also look forward to leaving.

People talk so much about parenting, the rules, and best practices of being a good parent. But not enough people realise the challenges of being a daughter, a child. It pains me to yell at my mother who calls me at work because she’s bored at home. How would I tell her to do something for herself, something she’d enjoy doing (other than talking to me)? That is, alas, a question no one can answer. Good “daughtering” is all about finding the sweet spot between spending too much time and too little time with your parents. And I’m still looking for it. Any advice? Please shoot.

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