When I was 11, my dad passed away because of duodenal cancer. He was 33 years old. One night he was complaining of stomach pains, his stomach had become extremely bloated, 2 weeks later, he was dead.
Now – I’m not writing this to make anyone feel sad, or upset, neither am I trying to obtain anyone’s sympathy. Those were the facts. Those 2 weeks was the most frightening time of my life. It’s obvious to say that that event changed my life, and the rest of my family’s life forever….
I was the eldest, my mum was only 30 at the time, I had an 8 year old sister and my brother was only 6 months old. How we managed – well God only knows. Being the eldest, a huge amount of responsibility was placed upon my shoulders. Times were extremely hard. By some strange miracle every month, Mum would make ends meet.
Throughout our difficulties growing up, Mum would be adamant about one thing – we had no other options in life, apart from studying hard, getting to university, getting good jobs and becoming financially independent. Whatever struggles we were going through in our childhood – we would not have to go through in our adulthood. Obediently, we did as we were told – and discovered that she was right. Work hard, do your best, you will meet with rewards.
As I mentioned before, whilst I was growing up, a lot of responsibility fell upon my shoulders – I learnt quickly about how to manage a household, the different expenses that were involved and how to put money aside for these things. Mum would often ask me to phone insurance companies, or phone up other companies over the phone because my English was more fluent than hers. I’d attend parents evenings for my younger siblings, get myself different part time jobs over the long summers, listen to mum and try to be there for her as much as I could.
Seeing this amazing woman made me determined on many accounts:
a) I would never rely on a man for anything.
b) Always be financially independent.
c) There’s no such thing as a knight in shining armour – unless you’re looking in the mirror and staring right back at yourself…….
And then, many moons later, I met my husband. It wasn’t easy for him – I was a hard nut to crack. Not very trusting – especially of men. Fiercely independent. Used to doing things my way – because I’d had to since the age of 11. 9 years we’ve known each other, and I’ve mellowed. The hard, mistrusting walls have been broken down and I’m a much mushier, happier person for it. I have enjoyed having someone to rely on, having someone to help me out, someone who lets me know – don’t worry, I’ve got your back…
Yep – I’ve definitely mellowed and enjoyed not having to be so independent if I don’t want to…until yesterday I discovered something…
I drove my mum and my 2 daughters to Weston Super Mare yesterday. We had a fantastic time. My husband wasn’t with us – so I didn’t have him to rely on for the driving, parking, helping out with the children, various toilet runs, pacifying the youngest one when she didn’t want to walk anymore because she was tired and grumpy. All those things that he instinctively just helps out with, I had to do on my own…the weird thing was I felt that sense of achievement again. The one I used to feel when I did things that were hard when I was younger – negotiating the best insurance deal at the age to 13, changing plugs, assembling bookcases and computer tables. Carrying my three year old, with a heavy rucksack on my back, whilst making sure that my other daughter and mum were ok – made my feel like my 20 year old self again.
No – I’m not saying that I want to be on my own again. Nor do I miss having those shields up to protect me from the outside world..but sometimes – just sometimes, you need to reminded of who you used to be….