The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Change of heart, change of perspective

Sunlight pours through the uncovered windows above my bed, lighting up my room. It’s late morning, maybe 10 or 11 a.m.

I’ve been awake for a while, but am procrastinating getting up.

I know what will greet me and am trying to avoid it. But avoided situations have a way of presenting themselves anyway. I hear the door slowly creak open. She stands there for a minute. I watch her as I feign sleep, hoping she’ll leave. I don’t have the energy to deal with all of her needs today.

She takes a tentative step. “Alyssa?” It’s barely above a whisper. There’s a pause, then louder. “Are you awake? You should probably wake up.” I know she won’t go, so I sit up and cover my face to avoid looking at her.

“Yes,” I say. “What do you need?”

“I’m hungry, what should I eat? And I need to get dressed. What should I wear?”

For the hundredth time, I wonder if she hasn’t really morphed into a three-year-old. I try to mask the frustration, sadness and irritation I feel at these seemingly simple questions. I pray for patience and lower my hands. “Mom, why don’t you have some cereal? And you should probably wear a long-sleeved shirt, it’s getting chilly.”

My mom had been sick for several weeks. Her illness was not in her body, but in her mind. It robbed her of the ability and desire to make any decisions. It robbed her of the ability and desire to function. It robbed her of the ability and desire to care for herself or anyone else. It robbed me of my childhood. Her depression came like a thief and took what I thought I needed most: my mom.

At 18, I found myself responsible for caring for my own mother.

At the time, I hated it. I hated it because I didn’t just have to make sure that she had food to eat and clothes to wear. I didn’t have to just prepare the food or help her dress. I had to decide what she wanted to eat and wanted to wear.

It was and still is the most frustrating situation I’ve ever had to deal with. But it drastically changed my whole perception of my mom. In a way, we had traded places, traded roles, traded responsibilities.

My mom eventually found herself and has made a full recovery.

Having been removed from that situation for several years, I can look back and be grateful. Grateful that I wasn’t left jaded and angry, hurt and resentful or scarred and bitter. Grateful that I gained something: a friendship with my mom.

I learned more than patience and understanding from caring for my mom. I learned the incredible amount of love that goes into providing mere survival to another human being.

For the first time, I had a small glimpse of the work and dedication and commitment my mom has put into raising and caring for me. I have seen the world through her eyes and walked, briefly, in her shoes.

In turn, my mom had the opportunity to see me step up and behave responsibly. While she may not have always understood what was going on around her or what I was doing, she understood what it took. She understood the worry and sacrifice that was demanded. She understood because she has lived it for 30 years as she raised six kids.

As a result, we both saw the other in a different light and were able to understand and respect each other. A beautiful friendship has blossomed from our journey. She is one of my best friends, not in spite of what we have been through, but because of it.

The parent/child relationship is a complicated one, especially as the child transitions to young adulthood. This is often fraught with frustration, miscommunication, tears and anger, but can result in a close friendship based on mutual respect and gratitude. That respect and gratitude comes from understanding and appreciating what the other person has brought to the table: sacrifice, dedication, commitment
and love.

We tend to see our parents as those who walk ahead of us rather than beside us.

But friendship grows from knowing and being known. By changing the way you see your parents, by seeing them as people with dreams and problems like yours, you open yourself up to learning who they are and start walking with them.

Parrish is a sophomore majoring in journalism. 

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