Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lucky, or if you prefer, blessed

I got to thinking about that again over this break: how incredibly, unbelievably fortunate I am to have the parents I do. To be born to and raised by the people I was.

I got to thinking about this because I went to church with them while I was visiting over break. The "new" assistant minister (he's also the Music Minister and has been so for a while, but he was recently promoted and got the pay raise) was speaking on "Love" and was using an illustration from a mission trip he went on, where groups were going to help people working with "at risk" youth in parts of cities where bad stuff goes down.

And one of the things he said struck me: he talked about how he was so afraid - and he really emphasized "so afraid" - for the future of these children. That he prayed that there would continue to be enough positive influences in their lives to steer them to the path of love and responsibility, and away from the path of hate and selfishness. And while he hoped that and prayed that, he still was afraid.

And it struck me: the choice of path was easy and clear for me. There was no deciding between the choices; taking the path of being a responsible person, and striving to be a loving person, seemed so obvious. And that's because of the parents I had, what they showed me with their lives.

My parents made a lot of sacrifices for my brother and me when we were growing up. My dad was a college prof and a low-level administrator, and my mother stayed home to care for us - so they weren't rolling in money. Yet I never remember really going "without," and in the cases where I didn't get what I thought I wanted (like designer jeans, they first became really really hot when I was in junior high, but my parents wisely would not spend $50 on a pair of jeans for a girl in the middle of a growth spurt, where they might be too short in a few months), it was probably actually better for me in the long run NOT to have that thing.

They sent me to a private high school (by the time my brother was of that age, we had moved, and the public high school in the town where they lived was far less antagonistic than the public high I would have attended had been). They helped us pay for college. They were always there to provide emotional support, to do things like buy a new pair of shoes for us when we were broke college students who had had our shoes resoled twice already, things like that.

I don't remember them ever taking a fancy, "couple only" vacation anywhere. We took family vacations; we went to visit relatives or we went to National Parks. Though knowing my parents, they probably enjoyed going to the Great Smoky Mountains or somewhere and hiking around than they would have enjoyed going to Aruba and lying on a beach.

There were other things, I'm sure, that were incredibly important and valuable to my brother and me that weren't really 'sacrifices' on their part so much. For example, I remember my mom saying that she was kind of sad when both my brother and I had gotten "too big" for her to read stories to us at night any more - that she had really enjoyed that. (Her reason for staying home with us: "I want to be a mother. I don't want to work outside the home and have my kids raised by someone else." I realize not everyone can, or even wants to, do that, but I'm really glad my mom made the choice she did.)

Also, things like the weekly trips to the library. Or going hiking on fall weekends in the Metroparks near us. Or letting my brother and me do stuff like take apart my dad's broken pocket watch so we could see what was inside it.

I forget sometimes that not all kids have the kind of childhood I did. I wish they could have - I wish that everyone grew up with the same sense of security and being loved and cared for that I had. Even when I started school and realized what jerks my peers could be sometimes, I still knew that I could go home at the end of the day, and my mom would be there, and she'd want to hear about my day, and if I were sad about something, she'd say something to make it better. Or I remember my dad telling me that the kids teased me because they were jealous of me, jealous because I was smart and good. It didn't really help me feel better about the teasing when it was happening, but it made me feel better to know that he was bothered that I was being teased in school.

So I do think of the kids the Associate Minister spoke of - and other kids in other places, who face the same problems and scary futures. And I do hope and pray that they will experience enough good influences to steer them well.

1 comment:

Justlittlecajunme said...

Great Post. I feel the same way about my parents. We were BLESSED!

I told my daughter the same thing your father told you about your not so nice peers.

Happy Blogging~