In what was assumed to be an attack on our childhood and our upbringing, a very hurtful comment was said by a “friend” earlier today.
After the initial pain and soul searching, here are some truths I held onto:
- My parents went to great lengths to show us their love and devotion to our family. With each passing year, I learn of sacrifices they had to make in order for us to have clothes, school supplies, uniforms, basketball shoes, softball gloves, cars, and even our house.
- Because of those sacrifices, we reaped the benefits of:
- Having something to wear each and every single day
- The supplies needed in order to learn and flourish in school
- All of the athletic gear required for us to play year-round sports. This included basketball shorts and shoes, softball pants, cleats, gloves and bats, and money needed for countless nights at hotels.
- A car that consistently ran and got us to every day of school, practice and work.
- A safe house in a safe neighborhood with heat, air conditioning, plenty of food, running water, and all the entertainment we’d need.
We were not rich, by any means. My mom told me a couple years ago that there were times she and Dad didn’t know how they were going to pay our (inexpensive!) mortgage for the upcoming month. Somehow, they made it all work. They provided more than what we three kids deserved, and never let anyone know there were struggles.
Our house was never the nicest among the houses of our friends and neighbors. But today, having been gone for many years, I can still walk into our front door and drown in memories of love and laughter.
The cars we drove were hand me downs from our parents (who received them as hand me downs from previous owners), unlike many of my classmates’ cars that were driven straight off a new car lot. But our cars were paid for in cash, saving us from having to help with monthly payments. Gas was cheap, and our part time jobs eased the burden of my parents having to pay for everything. And, no matter what our cars looked like, or how old they were, they got us everywhere we needed to be.
My dad “forced” us to play sports, sometimes against our will. I look back now on undefeated seasons and all star tournaments and national championships, and am filled with gratitude towards my parents who knew how much value those sports would bring to our lives.
We never got to travel the world; instead, we had to “settle” for family vacations. Looking back, if I had my choice now, I’d rather spend summers with my Nana and Grampy again than jet set across the ocean. My parents gave us opportunities to create family memories that are still cherished (and missed!) to this day.
When I think back to our childhood, the word “humble” comes to mind. My pastor defines humility as not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Humble surroundings are what we grew up in; humble parents made us who we are now. I love the life I came from, which has led to the life I lead today.
We had great family, friends and neighbors. We went to a safe school. We got to go to church. We played more sports and won more games in 18 years than some people play and win in a lifetime. We had a warm house to come home to everyday. And, most importantly, we were never without the unfailing, consistent, sacrificial love of our parents.
So, to end, while what this person said about growing up with nothing might be true in his or her eyes, if I could choose a life to live all over again, I’d choose the “nothing” I grew up every single time.