Hear Me Out is a weekly limited series where Ifoghale and Ibukun share the unsolicited opinions some people are thinking, others are living but everyone should hear.
Before you hunt me down on social media to cancel my ass, I bet you’re just as guilty of breaking your mum’s heart.
Think back to your many sins. Sure, maybe you’ve never been arrested or you’ve somehow managed to consistently call your mum once every week, but what about those times you broke curfew in her house? Hm? And let’s not forget the lies after: “Mummy, leave me alone. It’s not like I was drinking.”
We’re not perfect. We’ve likely disappointed our mums at least once. And okay, dads can come in. It’s Father’s Day tomorrow, so it would be rude to forget that their hearts are just as breakable. Which is what I’m here to say: You will break your parents’ hearts, and that’s not so bad. Trust me, I’m not shouting it. I’m more like stuttering because this is one of those times the truth hurts like a bitch.
Right now, I’m talking to all my young adults who can’t ignore the desire to go out into the world and do their own thing. This is for us twenty-somethings who’d like to party literally all night, take that unpopular job and figure God out for ourselves.
So how do you grow up, even when your parents don’t want you to?
Build a fence taller than Otedola’s money. Breaking a heart always begins with setting boundaries. That’s why it feels like a gut punch when an ex blocks you on social media. It just so happens that this time, the people on the outside are also the same two people who bathed you for years, bought birthday cakes and prayed for you to “join a multinational company” after university. Of course, it’ll break their hearts.
I could tell that their relentless asking about my life, salary and every move was their attempt at guiding me, but I knew better. There are many ways to say it, but always, it’s the same thing: Your parents will only begin to recognise you as a separate and capable individual after you’ve cut them off kindly.
Say “no,” and make sure they hear you. Till today, my parents can’t understand why I’m growing my hair out. Every time they ask, I fling some version of “I’m trying something new” at them. Casually like that. I know the image of me they hold in their hearts and the son they see on the WhatsApp video call are worlds apart. Once, they sat me down and begged me to get a haircut. “Look responsible.” I said no.
When you stand your ground, your parents will get mad or sad or really quiet and confused; it’s all okay. Part of growing up is making your own decisions, consequences and all. This is what our parents want for us, whether or not they realise it.
Finally, make space for them. Because bless their hearts, they’re trying their best. It truly is not easy to watch a child grow and go. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must be to see your child brave the world by themselves. You know how babies are born and it seems everything on earth is somehow designed to end them? What if that feeling never goes away for our parents? I can’t imagine it, but I try.
So once every week, I call from wherever I am to let them know I’m good and safe. I drive them to church on Sundays when I’m home, and we all take pictures together. I ask my dad what stocks to buy even though I already know the answer. Because I know my mum prays for me, and it comforts her to do so, I pray too. I even tell her when I’m travelling so she can pray extra, extra hard.
Growing pains, I think they call it. Emphasis on the pains because damn, it breaks all of us. I have this friend who — mid-laugh — says, “you will heal” to me whenever something slightly unpleasant happens. And just like that, we’re laughing at that same unpleasantness.