Childhood Environment

Post 6 of 36



Commentary


When children are born, they have the seed for blossoming into an adult. Even still, most adults are not complete just as the hero in a “Hero’s Journey” has some incompleteness. There are two dimensions of imperfection: things you know about and other things that you are entirely oblivious about. According to the “Hero’s Journey” narrative, heroes are often bothered by something they are not happy with in their lives. This unrest points the way for the hero to enter a different realm to get something that will fix his situation.


Each person is born into an environment. One may think their individual situation is normal and not anything special. However, these circumstances make a difference as to what a person values and how a person views the world. When people go out of their homes, it’s common to act differently. For instance, as a child, at home, you may have sung random verses of a made-up song as you squirmed on a chair. Perhaps this was how you acted when bored. There is usually something a person does at home when no one is paying attention that is unique. It is often something those who loved you (parents, siblings, etc.) found endearing.


My Childhood Environment


I was the fifth child, second daughter, born in Watsonville, California. When I was around three years old, we moved to Santa Clara, California where I lived until I was 18. My parents had another four daughters and a son to make a total of 10 children. While I was growing up, my father would go to work five days a week and my mother was a stay at home mom.


It’s hard to pinpoint incidents growing up so I’ll choose the memories I felt had the most impact on me. As a baby, I was told that my parents brought me to some church place and offered me to God. Although I’m unsure of the details, the idea of my life being for something greater made me think seriously about what I should do. Many, if not most mornings, my dad would wake me up around 5 am to go to church. Some mornings I would say I was too tired. My dad encouraged me saying that if I thought about God, I wouldn’t be tired. It worked, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was a special time with my dad. When we arrived home, my siblings were just getting up and preparing to go to school.


Carrying the Cross


On the wall of the church were the “Stations of the Cross” that I pondered on while I sat in the pew each morning. These were images depicting the path Jesus walked on the day of his crucifixion. One day in elementary school, the teacher, a nun, talked about the Stations of the Cross. She asked us if we would have been willing to help Jesus carry his cross if we were alive then. Even though I was young, I took this question very seriously and from then on, when I looked at the picture of Jesus carrying the cross, I thought about how it would feel to stand up and help even though Jesus was being ridiculed and tormented. Later in life, this commitment would surface and be a type of mantra for my life.


We all experience emotions, both favorable and troublesome. Our thoughts and feelings often shift. In her book, Rising Strong, Brene Brown writes about what kind of person she admires. It’s a person who is brave enough to do things even if faced with adversity, challenges, or insecurities. These types of people “feel their way through tough emotion and rise again.” She continues saying how the world needs parents, teachers, clergy, politicians, community organizers, etc. to lead, model, and shape culture. Brene Brown said the people she esteems have one thing in common, they are “curious about the emotional world and they face dis-comfort straight on.”


Being There


At some point in life, I realized I didn’t need to experience every circumstance to understand people or to be impressive for that matter. One comment used to bother me. We were in a group talking about each other’s characters and how we affected each other. One person was funny, and another was brave. When it came to talking about me, no one could say much. Then, one person said, “you are there, you are just there.” Wow! At the time, that seemed like the lamest effect to have on anyone.


Just recently, I was marveling at how wonderful our children turned out. I asked our daughter what it was that made a difference in their lives growing up. She told me that she always felt I was there for them. There is was again but this time, it was a trait that made me feel honored. How was I there? I loved them, and I cared about them. It must have played out in several different ways at innumerable random times.


Going Beyond Our Flaws


People, in their immaturity, all have flaws that tend to get them into trouble and cause them distress. This flaw is what usually blocks them from believing they can do what they feel passionate about or overcome obstacles they encounter. These personal flaws nag the psyche even if the person is unaware of it. Let’s face it, we all have flaws and if we ever try to do something, these flaws will creep into the picture. Nothing of value is completed until the flaws are addressed.


There were times I felt like I was going crazy. One situation stands out. At one point while homeschooling our children, I felt I couldn’t handle it. Our children were squabbling and asking for attention and doing all the normal things kids do. I just wanted some down time. I wanted to take a day off. I thought about how easy it would be to put them on a bus and send them off to school for the day. The reasons for homeschooling seemed to be lost in the shuffle. However, despite the trials, I knew we were homeschooling at the time to give our children the best we could give. It became uncomfortable though.


Instead of giving up, I dealt with my emotions. I needed to search inside while acknowledging the commitment. It wasn’t easy, but strength came, and my caring surfaced and thrived again. First, I prayed about it and talked it out with my husband. Also, the homeschooling forums helped because others were experiencing similar emotions. I found books to read about people who went beyond themselves. Even though I didn’t have the patience I needed, love endured and thrived. We didn’t homeschool for the sake of being loyal to homeschooling but because we knew it was best for our children at the time.


The point is not what we do but why and how we do it. We don’t have to land on the moon to be recognized. We also don’t have to homeschool to love our children. How much money we have, what we do, or how much power we have does not measure our success. Based on the life goals approach, success is how much we can love and be loved. Then, in love, we mature, create good relationships, and make the world a better place. This happens incrementally moment by moment.


Contemplation


What were your circumstances in your younger years?


What was stressed in your home: cleanliness, spirituality, creativity, harmony, education, responsibility, thriftiness, etc.?


How did you relate with your family members?


What were the activities you did together with others?


What did you feel about who you were and what you did?


What challenges did you face?


What activity did you do that seemed to bring out a hidden flaw?


How did you overcome adversity?


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Brown, Brené. Rising Strong. 2015. New York, N.Y.: Spiegel & Grau, p. 20.

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