My sister does not believe me when I tell her that my first memory is of sitting on the couch, penned in by my mother’s bent legs. She had worked the night shift at the hospital from 11pm-7am so that she could be with her kids in the morning. When she came home in the morning, her two kids were up and ready to run. My older brother, Kevin, is two years older than me. I remember being stuck between the back of her bent knees and thighs where she pinned me while laying on the couch to catch some shut-eye. Kevin probably was also limited to an area as a four-year-old, but I can’t say for sure because all I remember is looking over her legs and watching cartoons while she nodded in and out. Knowing that now I am the size of my mother, I know that I must have been about two years old to have fit behind her bent legs on the couch. I am sure that the Department of Family Services would not condone this parenting tactic, but back then and even for several mothers and fathers now, parents didn’t have extra money to hire nannies and sitters, or it just wasn’t the mentality or both. As my dad went off to work, my mother returned home.
They were a tag team that raised four kids. All four of us have jobs and are positive contributors to society. None of us abuse alcohol or drugs. Two of us serve and protect strangers every day as my mother did as a nurse. One coaches, mentors and teaches kids in hopes that they will find a passion that will ignite them down a path that will make them feel as great as our parents, sports, family and school made us feel. One of us is a huge corporate success story who will never admit it because of the humility she feels for where our mother and father came from.
I am grateful today for hitting the lotto the day I was born into a world where two parents loved me, cared for me, and did everything they could to serve and protect their kids while teaching them everything about seeking independence, and believing in a consistent work ethic that they demonstrated every day (when they were not sleeping). They were the daily example for us, and there is no greater gift a child can give his or her parents than passing on respect for others, the pursuit of a passion and purpose, and the discipline of having a consistent work ethic even if it means you work all night to be home with your kids in the morning.