Growing up, my father always did things a little differently; his parenting style was unlike most of the 20th century. Being his only child, and a little girl at that, you would have thought I would have gotten whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and that was true until the day he said I stopped being his sweet little girl and became a moody teenager. My father’s upbringing was a bit unorthodox and he wanted me to have a better life than him, but he also never wanted me to be spoiled or to make me feel entitled. So, growing up if I wanted clothes, shoes, or make-up the answer was always unequivocally… no.
That is unless I was willing to work for it, and from a young age, I knew what it was like to do my own laundry, clean the kitchen, and vacuum the house. I would then receive my hard-earned money and we would set out to spend it. The whole ride my father asking if I was sure if this was really what I wanted to “waste” my money on. His view was always that he could give me money for clothes one month and then the next I would want different ones (and he wasn’t wrong). He would try to convince me to save it; put it in my savings account for something better OR put it towards a souvenir on our upcoming trip. I didn’t always listen but I wish I had.
Even for birthdays and Christmas, I could non-chaluantly ask for money, but he would want to know what it was for, and the second he found out, the answer was usually no. It always left me irritated until one year he suggested that we start going on trips for the holidays. For Christmas and my birthday, he would give me a generous sum and send me on a trip to wherever I wanted. And that is when I found my father’s weakness. He would theoretically love to travel, but to be honest, he hates human interaction and loves the comfort of his own home. So he would rather see me have these experiences and live vicariously through me.
So he’s been pushing me since childhood to value experiences over possessions. To this day, I know I could call my dad and tell him about a trip Edward and I am going on and he will get excited for us. And more times than not, he offers to give us money for excursions or nice dinners. He loves that he is able to give me these experiences. And I love that he has provided me with them. Everywhere I go I make sure to pick up a trinket or two for him and throughout the decades his office has become a shrine to me, my travels and our life together.
Not only have I had so many amazing and unforgettable experiences, I have also gained valuable lessons; I’ve grown up to appreciate what others don’t. I am not the average materialistic person, I value experiences over expensive possession. That’s not to say I don’t indulge from time to time, but my husband and I make sure to live below our means because it allows us the opportunity to travel and gain experiences that others are unable to have. And thanks to all of my father’s generosity I have had the privilege to engage in the world more than the average person.
I have ventured the world and experience the good and the bad. I’ve seen suffrage first hand, and it’s made me a more humble person. I have experienced and grown from various cultures I have interacted with. My travels have enriched me and made me a more tolerant person. So to all of, that I want to say, “thank you, Dad.”
What important lessons have your parents taught you?