My Parents’ Expectations
Then, there was the “Do your hard, and you can achieve anything you want” MPE home. No one was excused from working hard or giving less than his or her very best effort at all times. From experience, my parents knew that adolescence was the training ground for life, so we had chores at home, part-time jobs at an early age, As in school, and hordes of extracurricular activities in which to participate. My parents understood how easily society allows individuals to settle for the least that life has to offer; they had shunned the perfect opportunity to do so, and they pushed us to do the same. Mama and Daddy didn’t just teach this MPE; they lived it. Married at 16, they had four children by the time they were 20. With little support or positive influence, they could have easily justified providing the minimum for their children. Instead, Daddy spent the rest of his “growing-up” years working 50 or more hours each week. While doing so, he never missed a ballgame or other important event in any of our lives. He found the time, somehow, not only to carry us on nature walks and tell us stories about his youth, but also to share his dreams, which inspired us to dream, too. At home, Mama constantly read and played games with us, helped us with our homework, and made sure, though money was scarce, that we got those “little extras” we craved at least once in a while. Mama also carpooled us, along with our friends, all over the county for ballgames, took us to plays in Atlanta, and through books, music, and poetry, showed us that there was a world beyond this place known as Cumming, Georgia. Their MPE modeling taught us that no adversity in life had to define us if we didn’t allow it to do so. We could choose our perspective and our reaction to other people’s perspectives-we alone were responsible for the outcomes of our own lives, not anyone else. Lastly, the MPE “Get an education” refrain was so often repeated that I was well into school before I realized that the three words could be used separately. Ahead of their time in their advocacy for higher education, my parents promoted college not as an option, but as the option. Though they rarely wasted time or energy on the disappointments in their lives, both my parents grieved over their lack of education. GED recipients themselves, they stressed education as the road to all the opportunities that they wanted for us and that we would eventually want for ourselves. While my siblings and I all attained different levels of formal education, each of us continues to grow and use education to achieve what we desire in life.