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It doesn’t take long for the events of everyday life to create a pattern where time passes us by so quickly we forget where we came from. As young children, we often dreamed of growing up and enjoying the fruits of our very existence as we saw it, and we rarely got the chance to move forward to our inner goals due to lack of knowledge, lack of will and lack of freedom from the boundaries our parents set.
All we wanted to do was grow up to live our own life and live by our own rules. We did not realize what our parents were going through just to survive. We did not know they settled for lesser things and just made do with what they had rather than going further into financial burdens as many of us do now only to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak.
In years past, it wasn’t uncommon for fathers to be the sole breadwinners in the household while the mothers maintained the structural integrity of the home and kept the family in line, on time and presentable. “Wait until your father gets home” — I’m sure many of you remember hearing that a time or two. A statement like that from my mother surely kept me in line, fearful of what my father may or may not do when he gets home and my mother told him whatever it was I had done wrong.
However, it wasn’t Dad who I had to worry about. Dad wasn’t the disciplinarian in our household. Everyone knew that Mama toted the title for that. You just knew not to cross her.
I learned at a young age how to not press my dear mama’s buttons only by watching my older siblings press them one too many times. I knew if there was something I wanted such as a toy, snack or some other unnecessary item, all I had to do was abide by the rules she set forth. Yet, still fearful of what may happen if I crossed her, I rarely asked for anything at all.
Now that we’re adults, when we need or want something, we just make it happen. If we want a new shirt, we buy it. If we desire a dessert after dinner, then we simply make sure we have it. Although we get what we want most times, that same child is still inside of us. We have unfortunately forgotten what it was like to depend on someone older than us, someone with more understanding of how the world operated, someone with control of what we can and cannot do.
This is what we wanted. This is what we desired as a child. We wanted to grow up, didn’t we?
Our understanding of how the world works is far from what we thought we knew. We didn’t know Mom and Dad had to go without just to keep the lights on and food on the table for us. We didn’t know that when our parents said no to what we asked for, it wasn’t because they were being mean. It was because they truly could not afford anything extra that month.
Things aren’t so different now that we are adults. We’re now the parents going without so our kids will have all they have. Know this, parents, and remember that one day, they too will understand what you are going through just as we learned. I hope.
Rodney O’Neal is a resident of southern Nash County.