The Prodigal Daughter

Today is Father’s Day, but instead of talking about my father, I’ll talk about myself instead. At the risk of sounding self-centered, I have always wanted to live a life of my own for most of my adult life. I valued freedom and independence and struggled to live out of my parents’ shadow. I didn’t see anything wrong with wanting to have my own identity, even if it meant making choices that I knew they wouldn’t approve of, exactly because I knew they wouldn’t approve of them. In my effort to define myself as different from them, I ended up in opposition to them several times. 

But life has a way of teaching its lessons, and I realized that no matter how far I thought I could go away, literally and figuratively, I would always end up going back. And for the nth time, here I am again, now married with children, still struggling with a lot of things, but no longer with going home. 

Years before I got married my father emphasized the value of interdependence, telling me that humans need and depend on one another in order to survive and thrive. It was his way of telling me that I needed him, and that he needed me too. Back then I just wanted to prove that I could make it on my own, because I wanted to be proud of myself, and I guess I wanted the world to see it too. But I don’t know what time and experience have done to me, because now I realize that that kind of thinking is self-centered and naive.

For most of my adult life I have been trying to separate and differentiate myself from those who have given me life. And while it may be the way of the world to consider that as growing up, maturity has finally caught up with me in another way. Not in escaping my parents’ expectations, but in embracing them. I am no longer running away from my father, but facing him head on. I am ready to be part of his legacy. There is nothing wrong with sharing someone’s legacy especially if it benefits not only the family, but the community. Just because it didn’t start with me shouldn’t make me feel any less proud.

Because I AM proud of my father. He is flawed, just like anyone else, and is difficult to understand and talk to sometimes. Growing up, I felt small and incapable around him because he was overbearing, critical and expected only the best. Sometimes I still feel that way around him. But in spite of all our differences, it is a fact that he is a visionary and it is a fact that no less than a great man is able to bring his vision into fruition. No one really knows how old he is, but I don’t think it really matters as he still works, still plays, and generally still enjoys life. Aside from fulfilling his duties as president of Atheneum and vice-president of the UP Alumni association, he still has the time and energy to party with his high school classmates, and UPSILON, play tennis with the Noveleta Tennis Club and horse around with his grandchildren. He is always busy, but always makes it a point to spend time with the family. Maybe that’s what I am most proud of. Certainly that’s what I am most grateful for. 

I know that we will continue to have our differences, but that’s okay. I know that I will continue to strive for my own identity and wish for my own home someday, and that’s okay. I know that there will be new challenges as we once again, live and work together. But for now, in my father’s house, I am home.