When we were young, my mother wanted us to get the best possible education. She wanted us to do better than she did in life. The public schools in our area at the time were not very good. She went to our church parish and asked for tuition help. My mother was a Catholic born and raised. We went to church every Sunday. I never fully understood her belief since they felt she was a bad Catholic because of her divorce, but week after week we went. For the help with tuition, we all worked. I raked leaves at the convent, cleaned desks in the school over the summer and moved things between classrooms.
It taught me all an important lesson in life, nothing in the world is free! If you are to succeed, the road is not easy. If you are not willing to put your back into it, work hard, success does not come. This is a lesson my husband and I are trying to instill in our girls. It is tough these days with the media generation and immediate gratification. We are able to give our girls many of the things neither of us had as children. We often battle with the “what is too much” line.
In 5th grade they were a bit worried about me. I was a latch key kid. Back then leaving young kids alone was not as frowned upon as it is today. I had a strong imagination. Idle time and I were not the best of friends. I had a wonderful teacher by the name of Helene Kunicki who kept me after school many days. I would help her do whatever, clean out closets, move desks. Spending time with her helped close the gap before my mother would get home from work. She was a wonderful woman who through a simple act of kindness probably helped change the course of my life by keeping me out of trouble.
My mother ruled with an iron fist. There was none of this “mommy friend” thing we see so much of today. She was the boss. In hindsight it is easy to judge her but I saw a woman left to raise 3 children alone. A woman limited professionally due to her own background and single motherhood. A woman who battled cancer for 10 years. It is always easy to judge when you do not have to walk in that persons shoes.
The rules in our house were clear! If your grades were down there was nothing else, period. By high school I had begun to excel and when I graduated college I did so on the dean’s list.
As I look back at how we were raised, I wish many things would have been different. But such is life. She was far from perfect but I am glad for many of the life lessons I learned . Those early years leave an impression of course but as time goes on each person must make a decision. What type of person do I want to be? What will I hold on to and what must be left behind? Will I allow the not so pleasant moments to be baggage or fuel to do better?
Life is all about decisions.