Growing up in an affluent community while being on the opposite end of that spectrum was at times difficult to understand as a child. As early as 6th grade, kids were getting cell phones in birthday party goodie bags. That would be a considerably big deal in this day and age, but mind you, this was when cell phones were first hitting the market so that made it even more ludicrous.
That was the same year that a Mean Girls-style burn book came out and was immediately confiscated. The admin went through every girl in my grade trying to pinpoint who the authors were and showed each person in the journal the page about themselves.
The page about me was just a drawing. It was entitled, “Half House,” and had a crude illustration of my patio home. While the outside may have appeared to be half of a traditional house, on the inside I can assure you, it was a full home. A home filled with love, kindness, and family.
I appreciated everything we had. I saw both of my parents bust their humps to make ends meet and make sure we would want for nothing. They went to work early, and they always stayed late. We may not have had the latest and greatest this or that, but we were always well provided for. And most of all, we were loved.
When times were extra tough, we pulled together and were there for each other. Once when I casually mentioned my toes felt tight in my soccer cleats, they scrimped and saved to surprise me with a pair from the secondhand store. They never wanted me to ever have to sit out for a season or feel as though I was missing out on anything.
I honestly do not know how they made things happen sometimes, and I know they often went without just to ensure my sister and I did not. They gave everything they could out of love with their whole hearts. For that, I am forever grateful.
In inflated times like these, I am reminded of how hard things could be then. When a change in job status or something unexpected medically came up, I’d take their hand and assure them that we were going to be “okay” Because although we weren’t rich with money, we were rich in love, and that would get us through anything. With tears in their eyes, they’d give the biggest hugs and know that their frequent message had sunk in.
I know it’s rough out there right now, Mamas, but trust in the fact that your kids see you. They see all you do for them and appreciate you for it.
While I can’t remember the gifts I got for Christmas, I do remember all the good times we had in that “half house.” A lifetime full of laughter and joy, not focusing on material things — just on what actually mattered.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. No amount of money is comparable to the love that comes from a family. We may not have been rich with money, but we were very rich in love.