Life is a pretty mad, crazy, hectic, loud, vibrant and totally distracting place for pretty much everyone. But no matter how mad, crazy, hectic, loud, vibrant or totally distracting your situation may be, there is one obligation that forever rattles around at the back of your brain, and that’s going home.

Leaving home is something that becomes more regular with each year, from going away on your first school camping trip at the age of eight to leaving home after college, the act of going home becoming less and less frequent. But that’s not the biggest change. That accolade goes to the experience of going home. It’s different every time. The way we perceive our parents develops, we start to look at them more objectively and, whether we like it or not, we begin to see them as people, with real feelings, vulnerabilities, anxieties, and mistakes. It’s a scary transition. It’s as if growing up has helped you appreciate them a million times more.

And with that in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of sudden realizations we all tend to have about our parents the moment we turn 25. Why? Because every parent-child relationship should be full of love, understanding, and empathy.

You Are Their Everything

Parents will sacrifice everything and do even more for you, always. It could be rushing off to the grocery store to stock the fridge with all your favorites because you’ve just called to say you’re coming home at the weekend or canceling their every plan because you need them. They’ll do anything and everything for you. And that’s just a tiny example. Moving cities where they knew no one to give you a better education, working two jobs each to pay for your college. They are the most selfless people ever.

They Have Their Own Demons Too

Just because they are parents, doesn’t mean all their life-scars have suddenly been healed. All those far from ideal experiences they had in life have stuck with them and made them part of who they are. The reason this is important to realize is simple: as hard as it is to imagine your parents had lives before you were born, they did, and when you understand that, you’ll better understand the reason they behave as they do.

You Sometimes Have To Play Parent

The hardest part of growing up is seeing your parents grow old, but their mortality becomes more obvious and their health more important. One minute you’re returning home because you want some home-cooked food and the next you are speaking to Parc Provence because they have a great memory care team. But imagining what it will be like to care for your parents is only natural and, trust us, rewarding. They did so much for you, it’s nice to return the favor.

They’re Not Perpetually Happy

Nothing makes a twentysomething feel sadder than thinking their parents are sad. But parents aren’t always happy, and that is okay. At times, life can be a painful experience for everyone and your parents are no exception. What makes it so hard to accept, though, is the fact they do everything to make sure you are happy. But everyone has a bad day, and as hard as it is to see your parents having one, you need to be there to help them, even if they don’t want you to see them unhappy.

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