While having dinner the other night, my best friend, my lady and I were discussing growing up and some of the amenities, or lack there of that we had in our homes. While describing what we had and didn’t have, I noticed one thing we all had in common. We were describing our conditions, but we were all smiling about it.
There was something incredible in that even though we didn’t have fancy things in our homes, we were able to look back and smile about what we did have. We described our kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, apartment complex, our street, neighborhood and we just smiled.
I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn during the late 70’s and early 80’s. My mom and dad came to New York from Puerto Rico in the late 60’s and met in the early 70’s. They found employment in a factory where my paternal grandmother was working and ended up hooking everyone in the family up with a job there making and shipping shower curtains to companies like J.C. Penny, Alexander’s (now defunct) and other big-name department stores. We lived in a railroad apartment (every room is connected in a row) in an ok neighborhood. We had the basics: bed, sofa, washing machine and a black and white T.V. Nothing fancy, just basics. If you look back at my posts with my baby pictures, you can see what we had as “décor” was VERY 70’s, but simple. It did the job. We were never without food, shelter, or clothing.
As our conversation continued, I looked around at my living room and grinned. I took a moment and just appreciated what I had and where I came from. I realized that regardless of what I had growing up, I was taught to appreciate it. There are people with much less and living in difficult conditions that would trade places with me in a heartbeat. Yeah, there was no fancy living room stereo system or t.v., no fancy car, etc, but we had something, and we never lacked the basics.
As an adult, I’ve always been appreciative of things and experiences no matter how big or small. Being appreciative is a trait that I want my daughter to learn. She is being born into a time where it is easy to take simple things for granted. Technology has facilitated many tasks and made us look past how we got here. Learning to appreciate what she has, where she is, and most importantly, WHO she is, will only make her a smarter and stronger person in the long run. “By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles, and losses, you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.” – Jack Canfield. This quote encompasses everything I want my daughter to learn and understand. It’s my job as well as the people I surround her with, to teach her appreciation the way my family, friends, and experiences have taught me.
To close out, I also want to thank everyone who’s taken the time to read and comment on this blog. I appreciate all of YOU for taking the time to read my insights, and providing feedback and advice on becoming a first-time father. As I wrote in a previous blog entry, it takes a village to raise a child, but that same village can provide lessons to everyone in the circle. Thank you!