I'm taking a bit of a detour from my usual hiking and travel posts in order to write something to share with my family and neighbors.
Growing up, I wasn’t always happy. For most of my life, I thought my childhood sucked. Middle school and high school were awful, I didn’t get to buy tons of new clothes or go on cruises or spring break or go out to eat all the time like other kids I knew. I struggled with my emotions and with my appearance, and I was more than happy to leave those years behind and move on with my adult life.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to appreciate my childhood a lot more. In all honesty, I had a very idyllic childhood. My family was normal - normal and happy. I hear about all these horrible things that happen in some families - physical abuse, divorce, drama, and parents who are super critical of their kids to the point of verbal and emotional abuse. I knew other girls whose mothers called them fat and criticized them, and that shocked me. My mom is one of my best friends. She never would have called me names or insulted me - she was always understanding, supportive, and full of praise for me and my siblings. My dad set a great example for us by working hard and being selfless - he supported our family all those years. He also made us laugh with the silly things he did and he let us do things that our mom probably wouldn’t have allowed (haha).
Not only was my family a really great family, but my childhood was as well. My family lived on a street with several other families with kids of similar ages. I feel like I spent a large part of my childhood hanging out at my neighbor’s houses or at get togethers where all the kids would play together and the parents would sit and talk. Everyone was friends and we all had each other’s backs - we could always count on our neighbors to watch our house or watch us (the kids) or help us out by driving us to the airport or lending us something. I feel sad knowing it’s likely that I won’t ever have that kind of relationship with my future neighbors.
I feel like my childhood is something I took for granted. It’s only now that I’m older and looking back that I realize how lucky I was - to live where I lived, to have the neighbors I had, and to have the parents I have. I think about the kids at school that I envied - the wealthy ones who seemed to get whatever they want and whose lives seemed to be a fairytale. At the time, I wanted their lives. Now, I wouldn’t trade what I had for what they had. I’ve learned a bit more about some of their lives since then, and it wasn’t a fairytale for all of them - they had parents that divorced or were hyper critical and horrible to them, or they had a lot of drama in their family and in their neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine dealing with that and feeling so unsafe in my primary environment and in the most important and encompassing part of my life.
I’m thankful for my childhood, my family and my neighbors. I wish I could have appreciated them more at the time, but I can appreciate them now for providing me with a safe and loving environment and for helping shape me into the person I am today. :)