Let It Rain

I once heard that you spend your whole life trying to get over your childhood. I’d say that’s a pretty true statement- at least for me. Perhaps I took my childhood for granted. I didn’t see the valuable lessons there until recently- until I had my own child, until I met others who had “fairytale” childhoods and recognized mine was streaked with difference. I guess difference in the way I felt- I remember feeling a lot of embarrassment, envy, shame. As I got older, those differences turned into strength, resilience, and perspective.

lullabies1

I don’t know the exact moment I realized it but from a very young age I knew my family wasn’t “normal.” The one thing I recall vividly was the feeling of embarrassment. I don’t mean the type of embarrassment you feel when your mom drops you off at school and gives you a wet kiss goodbye, or when your parents ask about your day in front of your friends. Those were the types of embarrassment I envied of other kids. I longed to be embarrassed about the things that would mark me as just another regular kid “embarrassed” about her parents being too affectionate or nosy. I wished to be average, to be normal, to not stand out for being different. I didn’t want anyone to know that my family was poor, that our house was always crowded and filthy, that my parents spoke broken English with heavy accents, that they were immigrants with little formal education, and that growing up we never had regular family meals around the dinner table discussing everyone’s days.

When you’re a kid, everything is humiliating, everything feels like the end of the world- it’s almost like a rite of passage at that age. If you were anything but ordinary you learned very quickly that you were different. And soon that distinction would either set you apart as “worthy” or “other.” As an “other,” I constantly compared my life to everyone else’s life forever thinking the grass was always greener. I was resentful of all the things we didn’t have, all the things my parents couldn’t afford; I was envious of my friends with clean, spacious homes and close-knit families. Why do my parents have to work factory jobs? Why do I always have to share a room with my sisters and grandparents? Why do we have to go to the laundromat to do our laundry? Why don’t we have a car? Why do we always live in broken, dirty, and dysfunctional homes? Why can’t I ever have friends over without feeling shame about how we live? Why can’t we be normal, like everybody else?

In hindsight, it’s those exact things that formulated my childhood I appreciate the most. My sisters and I came from so very little, and we managed to make something of ourselves. While I don’t enjoy the actual misfortunes we were dealt as kids (and wouldn’t wish it on anyone else), I wouldn’t erase it because without it I don’t think I could be as grateful a person as I am now. All of that gloom and grit has given my story some edge. My hope for my daughter is that she embraces her uniqueness the way I never did. As a parent you’re always trying to do better than your own parents; change the tide, rectify mistakes. Indeed, I’m trying to give her everything I never had (structure, routine, boundaries, a clean home, safety net, plenty of affection), but at the same time I’m trying to be mindful of injecting a bit of organic hardship here and there so she can get some edge too. If only there was a way to bottle some of that struggle and sprinkle it on her so she could learn the same lessons I did. She doesn’t know it yet, but she won’t always have the latest toys, the newest clothes, the fanciest accessories. Like her parents, she will have to work hard for the things she wants in life but we will be there along the way to guide her.

Adversity has taught me to have humility, offer empathy, recognize abundance, stay kind, be humble, chase real happiness, remain resilient, treasure the little things, and shift perspectives. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am. And if I like even an ounce of the person I’ve become then I reckon my parents did something right. To my parents, whether by accident or on purpose, thank you for laying the groundwork- I am forever thankful. The way I see it is no one gets to choose their parents or create their perfect childhood. So you can blame it on the rain, or you can dance in it. I’m dancing.

Like this post? Check out other popular posts on my blog!

28 thoughts on “Let It Rain

  1. Such a wise and thoughtful post. And I completely 💯 relate to the embarrassment about dysfunctional families. It’s def a different kind of embarrassment. But yes, I agree, good things come from it as well and I wouldn’t change any of it. Because then I wouldn’t be me and they wouldn’t be them 🤪 Thanks for sharing and writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a insightful and beautiful post, ❤❤❤
    Providing everything you couldn’t get to you child must be a very beautiful feeling…. I am happy things are better for you now… and i agree little hardships here and there are very important for a person to grow and thrive in life ❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhhhhh, that’s beautiful!! What a beautiful blog post!! Oh my!! I love it!! Your parents must’ve been very loving indeed! That’s the best kind of parent!! How lovely!!!! YAY!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful perspective! I love your attitude and the reminder that while we don’t get to choose our circumstances, we are 100% in control of our attitudes about them. That’s such a powerful truth!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re killing me with your honesty. Don’t ever lose that in your writing because it is the one thing that moves the needle for all of us. I taught many children who had a background such as yours. The ones who overcame all those challenges and hurdles are the ones who went on to become fabulous role models and parents. One of the great mysteries of life is why many children go on to repeat the same cycle they were born into, while others are so resilient and somehow chart their own course and use their prior experiences to say, “No, I want more than this for my child!” Kudos to you, BB, for your parental choices. Parents who hand everything to their children on a silver platter aren’t doing their kids any favors in the long run.

    Unlike you, I came from a stable family (It is a crapshoot), but one of the most important years of my life was when I moved out on my own and was living in my buddy’s apartment, sleeping on his couch. I even lived out of my car for a time. I needed that experience to realize that I didn’t want that for my life. I didn’t get serious about college until then. That doesn’t mean every kid needs to go to college to be successful, but it means there is no more valuable experience in life than picking yourself back up after you fall.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for your perspective Pete! I, of course, absolutely agree! I want to focus on giving Charlotte more experiences than material things- I just feel like the experiences will provide her with lifelong learning more than anything!

      I’m so grateful for my upbringing as hard as it was at times, because every new day just feels like an honest blessing! I take nothing for granted.

      I’m so intrigued about your story that changed your perspective on life- before you got serious about your goals and teaching career!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. An inspiring post. 💐 It’s great that you’ve managed to turn your childhood experiences into such powerful learning experiences. Keep dancing! 💃

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! I always think it wasn’t as terrible as I know it could have been, but it wasn’t great either. So, best to learn and move on, rather than stew and be resentful, you know? Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Like

  7. You’re wise. You’ve learned from reflection on your childhood. As a child I wanted to be normal too– but realized that’d never happen. Only as an adult have I embraced my uniqueness, which seems more normal to me. Talking in circles here. Happy Weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I did not grow up with financial hardships or I guess really hardship of any other kind either, unless you can count, even over the last 66 years till today, being Jewish in nearly any country except Israel as a hardship. Even so, no matter how financially well off or socially accepted or how loving your family may be, I think when we reach an age of maturity (as most of us do though I think there are some who never get there) we always look back to our childhood or youth or young adulthood as teaching us some lessons based on hardship.

    As far as raising your own daughter, as I raised mine who are now in their early 30s, I think any good parent will try to make the road as soft and easy for them as we can for as long as we can. If they don’t learn valuable hard lessons from us while they are under our roofs they are probably still learning them from peers or other sources even while we are pointing out to them how lucky they are in so many ways compared to any number of other people wherever they may be. If your daughter is still very young, as I think she is, you might appreciate part of my philosophy for raising independent responsible children. Give them enough rope to hang themselves but keep enough slack in it so you can hoist them off their own petards when they found themselves strung up on them!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s