Growing up we have no sense of appreciation. We don’t. As kids, we cry and whine about getting what we want and sometimes our parents give in and sometimes they don’t. It is our parents’ jobs to break these habits and to teach us to appreciate what we have.

Depending on your parents’ childhood, the results of your childhood can vary. It is safe to say I had a good childhood. While growing up, my parents told me stories of their lives as kids and all I could do was sit there in silence at how much their lives were different from mine. They told me these stories not to make me feel bad or guilty, but to make me realize just how good I have it and that I should appreciate everything I have. When my mom was growing up in a small town in Mexico she had barely anything of her own.

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With a dad who was almost never there, five siblings and a mom who worked her butt off all day it was hard to be spoiled. Life wasn’t exactly horrible but it could’ve been a lot better. My grandma would work hours a day then would come home, immediately go to the kitchen to cook for her kids and her husband if he came home that day, and when she was done with cooking she would clean the house. There was an opportunity to leave and she wanted a better life for her kids so she put them in a car and drove to America to live with her husband in his new house. This meant leaving everything and everyone she knew behind.

Because her mom’s decision to move, my mom was thrown into a new place with a new language and she had to adjust fast. She learned whatever English she could at school and to help learn new words she would read the dictionary. After a few years she was old enough to start working so she started to work at McDonalds’s to get whatever money she could and she cared so little about school that she graduated a year late without any of her friends. If she or her sisters wanted to buy something expensive, they had to put all of their money together because they couldn’t afford it on their own. When my dad was growing up his parents couldn’t afford to keep all of their seven kids so they sent my dad and two of his brothers to Mexico to live with their uncle and aunt.

They thought that family would take care of their kids. While my dad and his brothers were staying there, they were barely fed and were beaten whenever their uncle was drunk. Every now and then their parents would send money for food and clothes and they would call the house to check up on them. Not one of them said anything because they knew they had no choice but to stay and they didn’t want their parents to worry. They stayed there for eleven years until their parents came and brought them back to Chicago.

Because of their childhoods, when they had kids they wanted one thing: for them to have a different life than they had. At first they thought spoiling me by giving me whatever I wanted was going to make my life better than theirs. This affected me because I never really had to work to get what I wanted and my parents and I knew that wasn’t what I should be learning, so I started wanting less and they gave me less. Using my own money to buy stuff was better off for me to learn at a young age because it made me realize how there are things I just don’t need. I appreciate how well they raised me and growing up I felt the only way I could repay them was to love them as much as they loved me and to make them proud. Now I’m a senior in high school with good grades, a good score on the ACT, the chance to graduate early, and I’m about to start college before eventually transferring to a university.

My parents wanted me to have the life they never had and they did just that. Going to a university and living in a dorm was something my parents could have only dreamed of but they were able to give that opportunity to their kids. One day my parents will say “we did the best we could” and I’ll know it isn’t true. They did better. My parents were able to make a better life for me and give me opportunities they never had and I appreciate everything.