My parents hardly ever agreed with one another. Growing up in a house with four children caused many complications for us. As children, we wanted to do many different things. Some of us wanted to play sports, while some of us wanted to go exploring, but all of it cost money, and we didn’t have much. We barely went out, and when we did, our parents wouldn’t buy anything for us. We had very little money, so not spending it on unnecessary things like toys, games, candy and even clothes was crucial. All of our clothes were passed down from a sibling, whether it was used or ripped. With little money, and no ability to buy things other than food, we didn’t have much.
We struggled financially. There were too many bills that couldn’t be paid. Every day another one would come in the mail, saying that our bills were overdue and needed to be paid immediately. There were times when our water was turned off and we had no electricity. One of our cars was even taken away.
None of my siblings had gone to college because it was too expensive. They didn’t have a job, either, and they couldn’t even drive — they weren’t allowed to. My mom even insisted on going as far as sitting by the road and begging for money.
My parents then began to talk about getting a divorce. As a 10-year-old, I wasn’t mentally prepared for what was going to be said. My head was somewhere else at that point, wondering if what my parents said was going to happen; they couldn’t be serious. How could one of my parents leave me? Will they still love me? Do they love me? Do they love us? These many thoughts ran through my head.
In a few years, we went from owning a home to having to rent a house. We were lucky to even find a house with four rooms that could be rented, using the little amount of money saved in our accounts for college. My parents didn’t want to take the money, but to make ends meet, taking money from our accounts was the only option.
In my parents’ mind, we could not live on the streets. They left their homeland to find a better life for themselves and for their children. They escaped mass killings and multiple bombings, so they knew enduring a situation like this would not be the end of the world. They wanted their children to grow up strong, and live a good and happy life in the land of opportunities. They wanted their children to experience things that they never had the chance to. They didn’t care about what people would think of them if they saw a whole family of seven on the streets; they just wanted their children to live a happy life.
A few years later, things began to cool down. I thought I was able to relax and not have to worry about my parents. I soon came to realize that this was not the case. My mom disappeared for a while. We later found out that my mom was planning for a divorce and was looking for her own place. It was a shock to everyone. My older siblings were furious and upset, saying things like, “Mom left us,” and, “Mom left dad for someone else.” My hands began to form fists; all my muscles began to tense up; my eyes began to fill up with tears, overwhelmed with sadness. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I couldn’t process anything. I couldn’t think straight. I was brought back to my 10-year-old self, with the only thing clear on my mind being, “Why?”
My dad and mom then agreed to have a meeting with the family. We all talked together to clear things up. After accepting that my had mom left, when I saw her again I was filled with rage. Rage that was not able to last long, and soon became a smile and tears going down my face. Hearing that although she did leave us, and didn’t tell us anything, she will always be our mom, she will always love us and will always be here for us. It was complicated and difficult for both of them, but my parents made it work. My parents finally agreed with one another for once. Knowing that made me have hope in both of them. That they could leave the past, filled with sadness and madness, and learn how to move on.
Although my parents worked something out, they were still divorced. As a child, I always took the school bus to school. If I missed the bus, I had to take the city bus on my own. I had to miss many of my school activities. I even had to take time off from school to take care of my younger brother so my older siblings could continue with their education. I had to sacrifice part of my childhood and my education so that my parents would not need to worry.
The divorce caused me to have to grow up quickly. I had to find a stable job for a 15-year-old, learn how to drive a car, pay for my things and help pay for bills – things a normal 15-year-old would not have to do. It was hard and scary, but I was prepared. I was ready for the obstacles that were awaiting me. Such a crushing event that would usually bring people down really brought me up, and pushed me to persevere and believe that I was capable of so much if I put my mind to it. Despite being just 15, I was able to balance two jobs. With the money I earned, I became self-sufficient. I became independent.
I was working every day to make ends meet, making sure I was on time for work and always worked until the end of the day. On top of all of my new responsibilities, I still had school, so managing my time was a priority. I had to turn in assignments on time and keep my grades up, as well. When I received my paycheck, I helped pay the bills, while also providing for myself. That made me more independent, learning how to manage my money and not rely on others.
All the struggle I’ve gone through has given me so many new opportunities. It has put me in a position to be comfortable taking new risks, and to learn more about myself and the world around me. It has shown me that it’s never too late to live a happier life, how this is a chance to better understand my parents as individuals, and how this event caused me to become more empathetic.