Favorite Childhood Memory
What is your favorite memory as a child? A few weeks ago, I engaged in a discussion with a group of friends about their childhood upbringing. It’s always exciting to me to hear the different stories and paths that we walk. Some tougher than others and some just as similar.
My favorite memory as a child was heading to the beach with my dad and two older sisters. It’s one of the few memories I can remember where I smiled ninety percent of the day. Simply put, I was surrounded by family, laughter, fun and beautiful water, what’s not to smile about?
When I was growing up, in the 80's and 90's, things were evidently different. Click To Tweet I had neighbors down the street patiently watching my every move waiting to tell my parents if I stepped out of line. Most were retired and it appeared as if watching others were their new job.
I had older folks look at me ten different ways if I forgot to say, “Good Morning.” If I forgot, I’d later hear the story from my mom or dad about how rude I was. It felt strange to have my every move watched and reported but I was a child, so it was to be expected.
The quiet storm
I’ve always been a quiet child, an introvert or as some adults called me, “The quiet storm.” As long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed my own company. I was allowed to play with my friends in school and only the children who lived on my street.
However, right after school I would walk ten minutes straight to home and usually would not bother to stay outside. Why? We had a landline and I knew my mom would call right after she finished her job as a teacher. If I wasn’t there to answer, she would become the biggest ‘worry wart.’
However, when my parents divorced, I sunk into the deepest shell I could remember. I was barely 8 and though my mom didn’t speak about it, I experienced the multiple disagreements and arguments leading up my dad moving out.
Similarly, I’m not too sure if my mom noticed, but she allowed me to cope with the family troubles by encouraging my quietness. This was the start of a sheltered life.
In September 2001, I moved to New York with my mom. What a drastic change it was from my island upbringing.
I was teased for my Caribbean accent and looked at as if I were a year behind educationally. Consequently, I always felt as if I had to prove people wrong.
However, since my mom was a teacher and very social, she was able to build connections for me to begin school at a highly graded, public middle School.
However, the sheltering continued. When I was younger, I completely understood why my mom had to shelter me in life. She would do everything for me, especially since I was her youngest.
However, when I got to high school, I began to reject the sheltered life. Nonetheless, my mom was my shadow in everything I did. I was not allowed to take the train to school by myself in my whole four years of high school. I had to leave when my mom left, even if my classes started later.
At first, she would even pick me up from high school as we took the train together everyday. While I cherish those times now, at that time, I began building up a rebellious nature because I literally couldn’t do anything without my wonderful mother right behind me watching to make sure I was on the straight and narrow.
The sheltering continued for almost two years of my high school life. Finally, due to her scheduling difference, she began to allow me to take the train home after school.
Cell phones were the new rage and I was lucky enough to get one. However, this was only because my mom had to call me five times a day on it. I later realized that this is just what many parents do.
Hello world! I was now ready to be free and try new things. I could hang out with friends for a whole ten minutes before my mom would call to make sure I was heading home. Nonetheless, with this newfound freedom, I took advantage.
The Awkward Early Grown Up years
I was now 19 and finally felt brave enough to talk to my mom about my current boyfriend, who later became my husband around age 21. However, my mom still disapproved and chose not to attend my wedding.
I was actually thinking this marriage was my way out! However, my mom convinced my husband (at the time), and I, to live in her house with our first born. Despite, the reluctance and horror stories swirling in my head, this continued my sheltered life. I didn’t have to venture out into the world and learn about rent, and other major bills.
I was 21 now and now had to learn to cook for my ‘then’ husband and daughter. When I was younger, my mom refused to show me how to cook as she was afraid, ‘I’d burn the house down.’
Nonetheless, I now had to learn to do things that I honestly never thought about when I was growing up. I now had to learn about financial management, how to mail a letter, writing checkbooks, opening a bank account and basic survival skills. I began to get a peek of how the world works only in these awkward early grown up years.
My grandmother, a wise and wonderfully strong woman made me aware of how easy my life had been when I returned to Trinidad after my father passed in 2012. “Allyuh mother well sheltered allyuh… She had yuh under her wing all de time,” said my grandmother with her strong accent. This was the first time I even started to think on the matter and I realized my grandmother was absolutely right. Thank you to all the strong women who deal with so much but find ways to get through it. Click To Tweet