Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Day Nineteen: Thankful for the Road I've Traveled
I have made a point of mentioning, quite often actually, that I haven't had the easiest life. In fact, I've been through a world of pain, hurt, disappointment, let down, and misery. There have been many things that I've shared about my past, and some hidden treasures that I keep to myself because I'm still not ready (some 20 years later) to share some of those things with the world. And that's OK. I think everybody should have some mystery left in their lives.
It's no secret that I've been through abandonment, teen pregnancy, being homeless, being in an abusive relationship. being a single mom, and extreme poverty. The most recent member to the list is breaking off all contact with my immediate family. This year, I made a stand against my mother because of how she treated one of my children, and that resulted in us having no contact since.
My life has definitely been no bed of roses. Well, I suppose it has in a way. There has been several beautiful blooms, and many sharp, painful thorns.
Yet, today, I am thankful for all of it. Every minute of pain, joy, sadness, happiness, despair, excitement, heartache, heartbreak, and heart flutter. I am thankful for everything bad that's happened in my life, and thankful for all the good. I am thankful I've had to go through some of the lowest points of my life, and thankful I had so many high points.
And why am I thankful for ALL of it?
Because every. single. step I have traveled throughout my life has made me who I am today. And I truly believe that.
When I look back on my life, there are so many parts of it that make me cringe, tear up, and sometimes even shiver with fear just from recalling certain images. Yet, if someone asked me if I'd like all those bad memories erased from my mind, I'd tell them to get lost. I never want to lose the memories of what's happened to me over the course of my life. I cherish the good memories, but I also cherish the bad memories. Because, really, those memories are just as important.
I am a firm believer in the fact that I have been able to accomplish so much in my life because of how much I've failed. I truly believe I am a stronger and more independent woman because of how much I have been pushed down and have been made to feel like nothing. I believe that I am the mother that I am because I look to my own upbringing and have vowed to do different by my children.
I am proud of the fact that I can take all the bad that's happened in my life and use it as a motivator, rather than an excuse. You won't ever hear me blame my past on anything that happens to me today. What you will hear is me telling you that I have managed to go through what I've been through and still made it out on top. And, I wouldn't take a single second of ANY of it away, because it has all fueled my fire and led me to the person that I am today.
It's a message I try so hard to relay to my students. Rather than using hardship as an excuse, use it as a motivator. I've shared some of my stories with my kiddos. Especially the stories that involve me living in my car, living in a homeless shelter, living without water and/or heat, or not eating so that my own kids would have food. They have been amazed at some of the things I've shared with them, because in their minds poverty is all they know. It has never even crossed their minds that they don't have to live that way forever, and that they have the power to do something about it once they get older.
Of course, they're still so young it's really hard for them to fully comprehend the power behind the message I want to send, but I am hopeful that one day it will hit them. They'll understand what I said to them way back in 4th grade, and it will help motivate them to follow that road less traveled.
We, unfortunately, live in a society that has taken failure away from kids. Nobody wants their children to fail, and there's excuse after excuse given for kids' behavior, academic performance, and inability to follow directions. For some reason, it has become standard protocol that all kids succeed, everyone's a winner, and nothing bad or negative can ever happen to the kids because that's not good for their self-esteem.
Well, that's just sad. The real world doesn't operate that way. One day, they are going to fail. One day, their behavior will result in WAY worse consequences than missing some recess time. One day, their inability to read or follow directions will be the reason they can't get a job. I think it's so important that kids understand NOW that life is tough, that Mommy or Daddy won't always be there to make excuses for them, and that they will always have to do stuff they don't want to do... but that's just apart of life.
Which is why I think I'm so thankful for the road I've traveled. I'm so thankful for the hardships, the cruelty, and the pain. Because no matter how hard life knocked me down, I ALWAYS found the courage to stand back up and fight back.
For every hardship I've had, I've received countless more blessings. I can even say that behind every hardship, the blessings have ultimately stemmed from those hardships. Some of the best memories I have about my life were in the midst of some of the worst times of my life.
Which is why, today, I am thankful for the road I've traveled. It's been long, rocky, and often extremely uncomfortable. But, the views have been breathtaking, the treasures I've found have been plentiful, and it sure has been an adventure. I still have quite a ways to travel, I hope, and I'll be thankful for every step I continue to take on this adventure called life.
Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!