In August 2015, Korea welcomed the 70th anniversary of its independence. It was named “Recovery of Light Day” probably because of the 35 years spent in darkness without freedom under the Japanese occupation.
Though I didn’t live it, I can guess what it is to be deprived of sovereignty and live under suppression of a foreign government. It’s frustrating, heartbreaking, and unfair even in books and movies, but living it must truly have been darkness itself. There would be two ways of life in such times. Dedicating oneself for the day when freedom comes despite the lack of light, or the life of a slave, obeying and submitting to the oppressor for the immediate escape from the darkness.
Atop much sacrifice we welcomed liberation and celebrated the 70th anniversary of independence, we’ve not yet become a fully independent nation. With a nation divided, it could only truly be independent when the two becomes one. Additionally, although the North and the South are qualified to be sovereign states, without the Wartime Operational Control, the said independence couldn’t be seen as complete.
Just as a nation has requirements and stages to obtaining its independence, in terms of liberation and independence, a life of an individual is rather similar. Although much too derivative of my personal experience, I have a theory that a person achieves independence three times across stages. The first is when a person reaches the age of two, when the development of the brain is nearly complete – and could be seen as about 1/3 prepared to be independent of one’s parents. This is because even though they still need attention and cannot survive alone, they are able to communicate and understand language, and are able to do things they need.
The second independence is during the teens, or puberty. Their sexual identity matures, and their awe, and wide range of interest towards life, and the society they are a part of, are amplified. Mentally, they desire independence from their parents, and you could say that it is, to an extent, a period of some independence.
The third stage of independence is during the 20s. At this stage, with an average background, an individual has finished all basic education necessary for life, nearly completed their physical and psychological development, and most importantly, have attained the basic economic ability to become independent from one’s parents.
In 2008, when my youngest child turned 18, I declared to my children my independence as a mother, and though I didn’t verbally deliver it, sent it out for everyone in writing. The truth is, the two older children have already been maintaining their lives independent from me, but the youngest was fresh out of high school. The intention was to tell them that since your parents don’t have much money, don’t think about depending on them. The more important reason was my idea that my children could not be completely independent individuals in life unless I am independent from them.
Though I already declared my independence, how could a parent simply retract the tentacles that are outstretched to their children? Nonetheless, it is true that after this trifle of a declaration, it became helpful in refraining from unnecessary temptations on my own. Is love, sometimes called the parent’s incessant and unconditional meddling and obsessing, not the hardest thing to resist?
There’s a writing floating around on the internet called “What parents can, and can’t do for kids”. To share just some of the points, they are as the following: “Though it was I that brought you into life, I cannot live it for you. Though I can give you education, it is yours to learn. Though I can grant you the freedom to live as you wish, you are responsible of your actions. Though I can advise you, it’s up to you to take the advice…” This writing wistfully strikes a note on the obvious truth that it is the child’s role to live independently as a free individual, since the parents cannot live it for them.
Though everyone knows it in theory, the reality isn’t so simple. Like the old saying “Child in the Bosom”, even after decades, when 80 year old mom tells her 60 year old kid to “eat well” or “drive safely”, it’s out of the parent’s heart to keep you on their mind. Then, to be liberated from these worries and “recover the light” in independence, is to completely believe in their actions. And prayers like this also help:
“I speak to the guardian angel of my grown child. Do you still follow them? Are you bearing their wishes in your hands? Do you know much about their loneliness, scattered with inner turmoil? And even though you turned and cried when they denied life and your existence, are you still by their side? They need you. They need you – even more desperately now than when they were small. They are in difficult times. Now is when things must be done on their own, trying to set themselves free, think through everything themselves and don’t want to know about angels. Oh angel of my adult child! A mother can no longer intervene. But you can. A mother can no longer advise. But your wisdom comes from God. Angels! Stay with my child! Help them to walk through the thicket. So they may find the right path, the only path!” – Viola Renvall