Mythologizing your parents

One of the weirdest parts of growing up is realizing your parents are people. I’m just getting to that stage now and it’s kind of a headfuck in some ways, but in most ways it’s really nice. Of course, parent people are different than normal people. They are more ideas of people than people.

Parent people may have faults, but always faults you can forgive. Some faults you can forgive and some faults you can’t. It all has to do with your ideal person. My ideal person has integrity, so I can forgive faults like brusqueness. Others might idealize a person who is dignified, so they can forgive faults like smarminess. Personally, I find smarminess insufferable. It is convenient that neither of my parents are smarmy.

The sad thing is you never stop needing your parents to be parents. It’s just that parentage becomes more abstract as you get older. Maybe you don’t need your parents to take care of you, but you still need them to be the authors of the person you consider yourself to be (even if it makes them worse than they really are). So say you consider yourself to be a mensch who developed character through an unsympathetic home life. You might need to think of your dad as a coldhearted lout, even if he loved the shit out of you and tried in various pathetic ways to impart that.

Or say you consider yourself to be an ambitious high-achiever who isn’t a failure. Your parents, then, are not failures. They may have failed at lots of things, but then they recalibrated their life goals and those failures ceased to be failures. Even if they are deeply unhappy with the way their lives turned out and wish they could do everything the opposite way.

You know what’s stupid? That whole red pill/blue pill thing. Who picks the blue pill? (Or whatever pill makes things true.) No one wants the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Most of the time you want just enough truth to support the view that makes you happiest. That view is super broad and can incorporate a bunch of truth. If you told me, though, and on good information, that there is a God, but that smarmy people are closest to Him, and PS we are all going to hell because He thinks it’s hilarious, then I’d wish you never told me.

I would love my parents even if they weren’t modestly heroic and even if they didn’t create the most awesome me. But those things are definitely true.


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