To The Parents Who Gave Me The Best Childhood A Girl Could Ask For

To The Parents Who Gave Me The Best Childhood A Girl Could Ask For

Out of all the parents in the world, I'm so happy that you are mine.

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Thank you for everything.

Thank you for being my parents and always wanting what is best for me.

Thank you for putting up with all of my attitudes, my emotional breakdowns, my “problems," and listening to me complain about my drama.

Thank you for pushing me to do things that will better me and giving me the opportunity to be able to do so many things.

Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on.

Thank you for always being there, thank you for answering the phone (most of the time lol ) when I call.

Thank you for giving me the best childhood a girl could ask for. All of our family vacations, movie nights, Disney Trips, for every adventure we ever went on.

Thank you for giving me the best and always wanting me to have everything I needed.

Thank you for all the endless memories that I will always have. You guys are the best people I know and I'm so glad that you are my parents. Seeing other people's parents it makes me appreciate how lucky I am to have the both of you to call mom and dad.

Thank you for being you, for being my mom and for being my dad. I will always be grateful to the both of you, without you I wouldn't be the person I am today.

Thank you for giving me the tools to live life and to have fun while doing it.

I know that no matter where I am, where you are and no matter what happens that you both will be there for me till the end of time.

I appreciate you both so much, I love you both will all my heart. You guys are my heroes! There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about you and miss both of you so much, even though you guys aren't that far away. I love every moment I get to spend with both of you. All the things I have accomplished are because of both of you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You both don't know how much you both mean to me! I'm so lucky to have the best parents in the world!

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When You Give A Girl A Papa

She'll learn enough lessons to last a lifetime.
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When you give a girl a Papa she'll have the best adventures.

She'll run around atop his shoulders and learn to fly. Her imagination will never run dry and she'll always be down for a laugh. He'll tell her stories and wipe away her tears. When you give a girl a Papa she'll have memories to last her years.

Papa is German for Dad but in America, it has become a slang term for grandpa. And while it is just a word, for some, it has a deeper meaning. Papa isn't just a grandfather, he's a best friend, the instigator of mischief, a protector, a storyteller, a rock, the strongest man you know and, most importantly, a hero.

Papa can turn ordinary, everyday activities into an adventure. From a young age, I was running behind him as quickly as my little legs could carry me ready for that day's adventure. I was always down for anything Papa was doing, following him in his daily chores and mimicking his every move. Cuddling up and watching sports in his lazy chair was my favorite time of the day because he always told the best stories. Sitting there hanging onto every word he said because it was the most important thing I ever heard.

Papa is full of experience and wisdom. His wise words provide comfort every time I am sad. He can always make me laugh to fight the tears away. I'm not sure how, but he always knows what to say to make me feel better. Papa is a fearless force that never bows and is never broken. He can weather all of the storms while smiling and laughing. I can only hope to have that resilience when facing life's problems. And when Papa was struggling with his own battles, I will stand right next to him, ready to fight and do all I can for him.

Papa can do a happy dance via the phone so he is the person to call when something good happens. He is always there to celebrate life and all its joy. And, even though he tried to hide them, he cried happy tears the day of my high school graduation. I pretended not to notice.

Leaving Nana and Papa's house is always the worst part of the trip. Driving away waving my hand in the air with tears welling in my eyes because I can't wait for the next adventure. Disappointing Papa was the scariest thing you I could think of, but I knew that he would never stay that way for long. There was always a lesson to learn from mistakes.

He is the man I model all men after. If they don't treat me the way Papa demonstrated, they are not worthy of my time. If they don't make me laugh or have that twinkle of passion in their eyes and fire in their soul like my Papa, then they aren't the man for me.

Papa is my hero. I would give anything to be like him, to stand strong and hold the world together when it just wants to fall apart. To be able to make anyone laugh and feel right at home. To fight for what I believe in and work hard to achieve my goals. To have charisma and charm. To deal with people who wrong me with class and kindness. To follow my faith with questions because that is the only way to make your beliefs stronger. To be the person everyone speaks of with a fond memory in their eye.

At the end of it all, he is my Papa and no one can take his place. I can and will drop anything to be by his side. He has shaped me into the person that I am working to be. I will always call him for advice and kind words.

Best friends come in many forms, but my favorite will always be my Papa.

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Goddard

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Being The Favorite Child Isn't As Good As You'd Think

It's true what they say, it's lonely at the top.

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It's not uncommon to desire to be at the top, the favorite of our boss, teacher, or parents. As the golden child of my family, I have learned consequently that being on top of a pedestal, despite any benefit it may have, is not always the best and healthiest place to be.

It's Isolating

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In the family setting, favoritism can create distance. In my own experience, I was excluded by my siblings as the "direct pipeline" to Mom since she always told me to be her "eyes and ears" when she wasn't home. When the cat is away, the mice will play, but they won't let the kitten join. I assumed this responsibility was placed on me because I'm the oldest and at one point, did my job well, refusing to lie for my younger siblings.

"No, when mom calls I'm not going to tell her you're playing with toys when you're watching TV, like you're not supposed to. If you want me to say 'They're playing with toys,' grab some toys and start playing with them. I'm not a liar."

However, this structure was later on applied with serious ideas in mind.

Our mom cracked down the year we changed churches (I was still in high school ) and began to run the house like a theocratic dictatorship. I was partially exempt from her shaming. My sisters, who were also in their teens or preteens then, were "the sluts" but I was her good kid, the "future nun" so I wasn't yelled at for talking to boys or modesty infractions.

Once, I was sent downstairs, asked to stop whatever I was doing, to spy on my sister while she used the computer. She was only typing an essay but I was to report all her activity to my mom, who didn't trust her on a computer with internet access. Another time, our mom saw me read a book (which didn't have smut) and she asked what the story was about. I told her what it was about and she did not bat an eye. She saw my sister was seen reading the same book some months later and reprimanded her for reading "smut" (Mom read a sentence over her shoulder and took it out of context).

Understandably, it was easy for them to assume I couldn't relate to their frustration, to (sometimes literally) lock me out as a "spy." I didn't have anyone in my family to relate to or unburden the Momma-drama, her plans on uprooting and moving to Kansas (to a small town in the bible belt she believed was "utopia" for Catholics), and the pressures she was putting on me. At least I had a family friend for that while we were still in RI...and in touch.

That eventually passed, but even when that is past, there is still the assumption that I'm too much of a "wet blanket," a "goody-goody," and a few times, I was accused of spying for Mom though I had no intention or orders to do so. I only wanted to play tennis! Eventually, I stopped trying to reconnect with my sisters and embraced life as a "party of one." Looking at it from their perspective, it's hard to be with the favorite. I've been good friends with kids who were "teacher's pets," the A-students. I sometimes felt below their league.

Some other friends were "goody-goodies," the "choir girls," and I've been annoyed by them sometimes, felt like they were making me look bad. That or the manager, teacher, or parent starts to gush over them and it's a little awkward standing in the shadow of a pedestal. But for whoever is on the pedestal, let me tell you that it's lonely when those in the shadow feel out of your league, mistrust, or are jealous of your status as the "favorite."

You Have Unrealistic And High Expectations

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Recently, I was told I have "false ambitions." I suppose an ambition can't be considered healthy when I don't know what to do with myself if I can't pursue it. Like I mentioned earlier, I was considered to be my mom's "oblate" child, and she always talked about how pure-hearted girls like me should enter the convent, that I will be blessed by God if I did. I didn't really want to enter the religious life at first but then opened my mind to it, to the point where I was willing to give up my life goals and dreams for it. That's why I was in such denial and anger when the priest said no. Not because there was some selfish or ulterior motive behind it (like he said), but because the detachment process was painful, now I'd done it for nothing. I wasn't interested in getting married either. You know, because talking to guys is what "the sluts" do and I'm better than that.

The next best thing, so I thought, is an investment in my talents. I'm getting a degree in English, so I could be a teacher...go and join the missionary work in South America (I already know Spanish) and teach at an orphanage school. My mom is all for that. Or, how about pursuing a dream of my own and create a studio, adapt my own stories and produce original short films. We need more wholesome entertainment. I'll start on YouTube...and that's how I met my boyfriend.

Once my mom found out that he and I were dating, she tried convincing me that I was throwing my life away, that he's not good enough. She told me to travel and start a career, said we will save up and take that bucket-list trip to Peru. After this conversation, I worried that I really was throwing my life away. The Beau said it was nothing but a bribe, her strumming on the strings of my ambition and the fear of never accomplishing anything in this life.

He said I was filled with "false ambitions" and he has his suspicions as to who put them there. According to an article I read about golden children, "Whether because they did not have the right opportunities in their young adulthood or because they are themselves victims of a poor parental education, manipulative or narcissistic parents do not limit their sphere of influence on child's desires. They project their aspirations on the child without respecting his/her feelings and thoughts" (Learning Mind.com "Golden Child in a Narcissistic FamilyAnd What Lies Behind A Perfect Image). After having them for so long, I'd thought some of those ambitions were mine (well, the idea for Inspiration Studios Was mine. That's probably why I never told my mom about it.)

The call for the nun's life maybe wasn't God's, but hers. Beau and I are happy right now. He only wants my happiness, is a man of action who I freely can be myself around. Why ask for the moon when I've found a star in my own backyard?

It Could Create The Loss Of Self

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Similar to desiring what you were taught to want, you start to identify strongly to whoever is idealizing you. You are kept close by to that individual. "Sit here next to me, don't bother them." It's often the case that you share interests in common and they want to go to places or enjoy one-on-one activities. All of that one-on-one time may make you jealous if anybody else is invited along after basking in the favoritism. For me, that has faded. As much as I liked botanical gardens, something about being one-on-one with my mom caused discomfort post-move.

Maybe it's because I've grown up and have developed my own tastes. When you are the favorite, you act as if you like everything they like. Choke down their favorite food or drink, wear that tacky blouse they like on you, act the way you're expected to act to keep your status.

You don't convince anyone when you take the tacky blouse off and come out to any you dislike coconut icecream as much as they do. To them, you are practically the same person, an extension of the ol' lady, not a peer.

You need to show you are above everyone else, taught that you are better than they are. I saw the way the others were treated and I do not want to be thrown off the pedestal and into the trash and dared not show that I disagreed.

It can even get to the point where you place your true self into a box and throw it away, or you walk on eggshells because deviating from your assigned character can cause disappointment. Such-and such is expected from your sisters, not from you! Not to mention the fear of losing approval from the only person in your family who appears to like you, or at least tolerates your presence.

It Can Give You An Ego

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I had an old friend tell me off for being "arrogant." I didn't think she was right all the way, but she could have been onto something. The accusation started after I said that I love my boyfriend, but I think I'm above relationships. Only dumb girls are after that. She told me it was arrogant and vain for me to consider myself so above something so normal.

I felt insulted. I was sure I had done nothing wrong and my friend was simply a close-minded prig. Typical self-righteous choir girl! Goodness forbid I have ambitions, huh? Arrogance is a quality found in a bully. I'm not a bully! My boyfriend later accused me of the same thing. He said that it's possible that being placed as the favorite, taught I could do no wrong and influenced to have high ambitions was giving me an ego.

I don't know for certain if my mom is a narcissist, but according to my research, the golden child of the family is groomed to be another narcissist, a copy of the parent, living out said parent's own unaccomplished goals. I hate vilifying my mom. It feels ungrateful and wrong considering I turned out a productive and virtuous citizen and I'm not messed up like some of my peers thanks to her. However, the ends don't justify the means.

It's Exhausting

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In order to keep the favorite status, you must always act and present the image that is expected of you.

If you are considered the favorite, you must act the part - whether your "favorite" status is defined by your looks, grades, accomplishments, charisma, virtue, alternate-accepted-persona, whatever you have you are expected to show it.

There is only so long you can put on an act until you get tired of it, which can effect your emotional state. If emotions are not allowed, especially since they cause a break in character, an imperfection, tying those down is an exhausting task.

Habitual bottling may lead to violent outbursts. My tip is to wait until nobody's around to release. It's all in the breathing. Depending on your personality, you may end up as the "nervous wreck" of the family as well as the golden child.

Clipped Wings

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If you're the favorite, you may be overly protected. Whether you hit milestones such as getting a car, your own apartment, or significant other late is a matter of a controlling parent wanting you all to his or herself I'm not quite sure because minds change with whatever is perceived as "convenient" where I come from. Like I was practically getting kicked out one moment (despite the lack of financial stability to move out yet), then once I found a roommate, I was asked to stay.

It depends on personality, sometimes but if you're the favorite you may be spared from difficult (real or perceived to be difficult) tasks. For instance, when working in the same shop as my mom, she told me to stay out of sight in the back during the rush hour so I wouldn't "be overwhelmed." That or she didn't trust me and thought I would mess up. After a while, this infantilization can be irritating. In order to learn, I need a chance!

To conclude, the favorite or the golden child of the family appears to have it easy but the truth is, favorites face a different set of hurdles. Many golden children don't even recognize they are being controlled. Losing favor and being discarded can be a blessing in disguise. Acknowledging that something is wrong, regarding any negative emotions can be a step towards figuring out the source of bitterness and leaving the toxic situation (if someone comes by and offers help, accept the offer). It's a comfy cell, but a cell all the same.

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