I”m rubber. You’re glue. Whatever bounces off me, sticks on you!”
I remember hearing that a lot when I was a kid. I believe I even said it a time or three. These last few years, I have come to realize, that it is true.
Example: I am the youngest of four children. My mother prayed and my dad smoked. Of the four, now adult, children we all believe in God, but I am the only one who does not smoke cigarettes.
We were all raised in the same crazy family. But we all responded to the same thing in different ways. Maybe this is what they mean by, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As we walk through the village of life and take in the scenery, different things jump out at us. Each one of us will take away something different from the same experience.
When I stop and think about my childhood, I think of it as being this very happy, very stable place. But when I listen to my mom, or my brother and sisters talk about how we once all lived inside of a car, how I used to sleep on top of a dresser, how my older siblings used to run down to the creek and eat pebbles to calm their aching tummy’s because there wasn’t enough food, I think, there must be something seriously wrong with me.
I remember those times differently.
When we lived inside that car, I was still very small. Too small to know that we weren’t camping. So small, that what little food there was, was given to me first, then everyone else. I used to draw pictures of dinner plates, piled high with food, and wished it was real so I could eat all of it, but I don’t recall feeling physical hunger pangs like my brother and sisters.
I have vague memories of crawling up on top of that dresser, stuffed into the back of our car, to a palate that was laid out for me. I thought it was fun to sleep up there. I was encouraged to think of it as special.
I have always had a knack for ignoring things I find unpleasant and subconsciously choose to be positive no matter how negative the situation is. I am blessed in that, it feels like positivity is part of my DNA. Some of the most challenging moments in my life seemed bounced right off me. And for years I thought they left my unaffected.
Turns out, they find their way out when I am writing. Which, I am learning is a very good thing and another topic entirely.
Now, I can’t speak for my other family members, but looking back, knowing what I know, and seeing my tough little life from the eyes of my own parental struggles, I hope my children never know what it’s like to go to bed hungry, or worry about out-growing their clothes.
And I can honestly say, that I would not trade my memories for anything.
Even though the times were tough, my parents pushed us through. In the midst of our “Woe-is-me’s” we were reminded that no matter how bad we thought we had it, there were always others who had it worse. And I took those words to heart each time I saw my parents give out of their own lack. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I think I am starting to get it.
See, we may not have had new shoes at the start of the school year, but I was raised with an abundance of love which gave me confidence. I found solace in the faith that drove my parents to keep trying. I knew that even though my dad was laid off from work, that he would get out of bed the next day and he would find another job. And if he did not find one as soon as he would like, that we would still be okay.
My mother taught me that, even if the only thing that God changes is our perception, it is enough. Because our minds are remarkable creations with the ability to interpret information in a million different ways. Some situations may require more effort to positively process, but it can still be done.
I just have to keep trying.