This I Believe

Ashley - Gulfport, Mississippi
Entered on December 11, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: work

I believe that hard times can strengthen anyone’s mind and spirit. I believe that after enduring enough bad times and experiences anyone will learn from them and become stronger mentally and emotionally.

At age 10, I never imagined that I was strengthening my mind and spirit when my siblings and I were stuck eating Hamburger Helper five nights in a row and I was practically raising my baby brother. My single parent mother worked nights at a local casino five nights a week to raise us four children and pay the bills. At that time in our life my dad was around, but he was not much help to my mother. My mom made decent money for a single person without kids. For someone with four kids it just was not enough. There was enough to pay the bills and to get by with, most of the time. That does not mean there was enough to buy the most food and best food. Hamburger Helper came to be our supper quite a few nights out of the week. It was cheap, easy for my sister to cook, and came in a variety of flavors. There were also those times when the television or phone was shut off. If that occurred we just ignored the situation.

My baby brother, Joey, became my heart. When mother was working, or sleeping during the day from working late hours, I was the one watching and playing with him. From the day he was born I was attached to him so it never bothered me. I never cared to change his diapers or bathe and feed him. If he woke up in the middle of the night it was me that would get him a new bottle and put him back to sleep. I would sing him baby songs even though my voice would scare any person old enough to tell the difference. I believe that tending to Joey enabled me to care for babies in a way that others at my age would not be able to do.

My sister and I were in charge of keeping the house clean and keeping things in order. She, age 13, and I, age 10, alternated nights to clean the kitchen. The rest of the time we all tried to help to keep the rest of the house clean. Well, clean as in clean to children. I would do my own laundry because I did not want my clothes to become lost in the pile in the laundry room. My mother would clean on days off, but with four kids around it never lasted long.

Times were very tough for some years. Eventually my dad started to help put more. Times are better now. That stress does not hang around in the air anymore. A weight has been lifted off all of our shoulders. Those hard times pushed me in school and made me be the best I can be. I believe that hard times can be good in some ways. I believe that having to struggle can teach some priceless and very valuable lessons.