The circumstances in which a person has been raised as a child often create the characteristics that make up who they are. Children are like sponges, they soak up information and experiences whether they know they're actively doing it or not, and most of the time, you have no idea what you've learned until you look back on things years and years later. While none of these things may have benefited you as an 8-year-old, you can confidently say that now, the things you've learned have prepared you for the parts of life that aren't always sunshine and rainbows.
The Value of Money
If you grew up in a middle or lower class family, money is something you learned about at a very early age. It was always budgeted groceries, do-it-yourself home improvement projects, and no, they did not pay for your new iPhone. You got new clothes once a year, and that was only because of the sales for “Back to School” shopping. You can recall knowing frequently exactly how much your parents had available in the bank because they didn’t want to hear you complain about wanting this or that - the only way for you to understand was to make you as much a part of the money discussion as they were. Sometimes bills made your parents fight, or cry even. Sometimes you felt guilty over things that were expensive but you couldn’t control, like needing glasses or braces. When Christmas time came, it wasn’t a secret that your parents were buying the presents, mostly because of the white envelope of cash you found on the kitchen counter one night labeled “Christmas savings”. But you know what? You’re thankful for all of it. So what Santa wasn’t the most exciting part of your childhood, knowing how hard your parents worked just to see your face when you ripped open the wrapping paper to find all those special things, that’s more important. You learned that cash flow is not infinite, and never will be.
In the movies, the couple always struggles with some sort of complicated love-thing, and then in the end they make up and decide they want to spend their lives together and get married and live happily ever after right? But what they never show you is the after, the part where marriage gets real. In fact, a wedding is probably the least representative thing of even slightly what a marriage is. Nobody sits around and cheers on your marriage like they do at your wedding, and there’s no chocolate fountains involved. You’ve seen your parents have their spouts, some only for a few hours, others stretching for weeks or years. Sometimes you’ve wondered if they still love each other. Other times you think that there is no way in hell you could find a love like your parents’. Either way, it has opened your eyes to what it really means to be with the same person for so long. You have to be honest and completely open, and above all you have to be patient with the other person and learn to move past their faults (to a certain extent).
It’s Ok To Start Over
Whether your parents lost their job, moved homes, or became out of touch with their friends, they always moved forward. They weren’t afraid to start from a clean slate. You’ve seen your parents lose their “dream job” or struggle with unemployment. One of the straight faced facts of life is that sometimes you don't get to do what you love, you just take what you can get. No one ever put McDonald’s manager under the “what I want to be when I grow up” section of first grade (but if you did, I’m not knocking it, be happy my friend). Your parents may have struggled to fit in socially, they were the new people in their neighborhood or job more than once. If you’ve moved houses or schools, you know what this is like. Or when a family member passed away, you’ve seen your parents hurt, maybe they hit a dark place. Life is unexpected and even if you feel lost you know that you won’t always, things will get better. You know how to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and carry on, because there simply is no other option.
Watching my parents struggle was heartbreaking at moments, and still is. Knowing there is very little you have control over or can help them with was one of the hardest parts. I felt like a movie goer watching my parents circumstances as they rolled out in front of me. But that’s just it, if any of the things that made my parent’s time on this earth a bit tougher were able to be fixed by me, nothing would have been the same. I wouldn’t be the same. I’m the type of person that tackles life plain in the face. I don’t like spending my money (much). I have definitely seen marriage suck at certain points. I know that dark places or starting over isn’t the end of the world. And I know that everything starts and ends with the power that you give to things in your life. So if you let any of these things stop you from being a badass, that's on you. If you keep moving forward and get to the grindstone, that's on you too. While this may not be everyone's experience growing up, I'm glad it was mine. And to my Mom and Papa - Thank you.