Monday, September 30, 2013

Having nothing, but giving everything

I really didn't know how to approach this post without bringing up the hardships of my childhood. I never want to come across as though I am ungrateful or resentful toward my upbringing, regardless of how little we had or anything that may have occurred, because at the end of the day I had parents that loved me, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my belly.

But my childhood was far from perfect.

I feel as though I endured challenges at a young age, and as a result of those challenges, they impacted who I am today. For the better. I believe that I am the strong, hard-headed, stubborn individual because of my childhood. I belive I'm a better mother because of my childhood. I also believe that I have flaws, and negative characteristics because of my childhood.

How about I start from the beginning.

For starters, I don't know my real dad. I know him, but I don't know him. My parents were married. He was abusive to my mother, and obviously that never equates to anything positive, so a divorce was inevitable. My mom remarried, we moved to the United States {which my biological father had to give permission for}, and we never saw or spoke to him again. No phone calls. No birthday cards. No nothing. Am I bitter about it? No. I have never had any desire to meet him, get to know him, or have a realtionship with him. I think my life was fulfilled in other areas that I did not feel like something was missing. Nor do I now. However, that being said, I just cannot fathom any parent, mother or father, ever being okay to leave their child or children {regardless of who did the leaving}. How do you do that? How do you let go and get on with your life knowing they are out there somewhere? Something I will never understand, and something that, to me, is unforgivable.

The question is, how was living without my biological father impacted who I am today? I value motherhood so much more. I value every detail and every memory so much more. I savor these moments and I equally expect Andrew to as well. We are present in all aspects of their lives, involved, and want to make family traditions that our children grow up remembering. We also understand that being together as a unit is just as important. So as a result, we have to work on our own relationship and making it as successful as possible. After becoming a parent and realizing what my own father missed out, I realize how special this role is and how important it is in my life.

After moving to the United States, we faced many challenges of not having enough money, not knowing the language, the culture, and the people surrounding us, and having to adjust and rewire everything that we knew. For me though, I was just a kid. Seven actually. I think the bigger struggle was that within my parents. But as a child? You see that. You see the challenges, you notice their absence due to double shifts, you see the frustration and anger at times. I watched my parents work hard and for little. Plain and simple, it sucked.

As a result, I was put in a position where I, myself, and my brother included, had to kind of "grow up" a little faster.  I'd be pulled out of class at times so that I could watch my baby sister while my mom went to work a shift at the restaurant. There wasn't anyone present to help with my homework. Homework that my parents wouldn't be able to understand themselves. If I wanted to eat a lunch at school, I had to be the one that was responsible in packing a lunch, starting in Elementary school. Most days? It'd be an apple, a piece of bread, and anything else that I could throw in. Looking back at times, although I never realized this as a kid {nor did I feel like I was missing out on it}, but looking back as a parent today and thinking about some of these things really makes me reflect on the bigger lesson in life.

That hard work does pay off, and that you have to appreciate what you have, regardless of how much you have it.

It's true. I had a warm bed to sleep in, I had food to eat, for every meal of the day {even if I didn't like it, even if my parents never bought "snacks," even if it wasn't what every other kid my age was eating}, and I was taken care of.

The greatest part about my childhood was how I got to watch the positive outcomes of all the hardships. The day my dad bought my mom her first car. She was about 8 months pregnant with my sister at the time. Or even better, the day my parents bought their first house. The two story home that gave me, the 4th grader, my first very own bedroom. Gone were the days of sharing a room with my older brother. The day my parents became citizens of this country that we now called home. The day that we got to spend our first Christmas and unwrap presents under the tree. Graduating high school, then college. And then one day becoming a parent myself and having to reflect on these very same things that I do today. The value of hard work.

I know that often times I want to fulfill my children's childhood with so many loving, tender, family memories. I want them to see the world, experience fun things, and have lots of videos and pictures to show for it. "Look, you see, you had an amazing childhood." I gave you everything I could, and provided you with all the love that my heart could hold. All of my time, all of my resources, all of my hard work and sleepless nights, all so that my children never had to go hungry, feel unloved, or have fear in their eyes.

At the end of the day, I know that the only thing that will matter to our children is that they had us. That they had us and that we were present. That they knew what hard work simply by looking at what we had accomplished and what we had sacrificed in our lives, for them and our family.

Making our children proud is very important. I think being proud of my own parents is what made me an independent, hard-working woman that I am today.

No, I don't want the struggles for my children that I had. No, I don't want them to pack their own lunch, not be able to do sports or not attend a field trip because your their parents couldn't afford it. No, I don't want them to not see their parents for days or not have someone to tuck them in at night, every night.

But I also realize that having a childhood that has all the means to a "rich" life isn't one that necessarily equates to a positive one either. I think that children don't know any different, and that they only care about one thing and one thing only:

Feeling loved, accepted, and needed by the parents that raised them. And sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that we don't have to have it all, to give our all.

Complete list of topics here
Next week: How my childhood impacted who I am today

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