Petena - Jacksonville, Florida
Entered on February 12, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I Believe

There are many things I believe in. The one thing that holds true to my morality is faith. It’s what gets me up every morning despite all odds. I remember when I was a little girl, growing up with five other siblings in an old drafty house that felt like it had little or no insulation in the winter and was a furnace in the summer months. The house was terribly infested with critters from the outside that would often seek refuge in our walls, appliances, and anywhere else that made for good cover. We lacked a few material luxuries, like reliable transportation and central heating and air, and the small things kids our age coveted like name-brand shoes, clothing, and high tech video games. Every year during the holidays, we weren’t always sure if there would be presents under the tree, but at least we had a tree. My father, being disabled, was a stay at home dad who devoted all of his love and attention to the well being of the household. My father was a serious character, very tidy, and strict. He had his sporadic “goofy” moments where he would make us laugh I think just to break the monotony. He also had his drunken moments, but despite his vices, despite his flaws, he was a good support system.

My mother was such a strong and hard working woman that at one point we didn’t see much of her because in between birthing six children she was always working more than one job at a time and attending school simultaneously. Whenever she was at home, the consequences of her day would take an exhausting toll on her overwhelmed body. In my young and inexperienced mind, it was difficult to fathom how she managed to finagle some time to study and rest in the midst of what seemed like such an air tight schedule. When I got the chance to watch my mom walk across the stage and witness a lifelong dream finally become a reality, my revelation of faith emerged and thus began the broadening of my perspective on the meaning of the word. Although our lifestyle wasn’t like the glamour we see on television, it didn’t dampen our spirits. My parents did an excellent job of instilling in us that the shared laughs and love we had for each other more than compensated for what we lacked, and the most important thing is having faith that it can and will get better. We didn’t quite understand at the time that was the reason why we didn’t fret over the little things like most people. Even as kids, we just took things as they came, and left them as they went.

In hind sight, it’s amazing the challenges our lives presented, and what’s even more amazing is how well we got through those challenges and continued to maintain an exceptional amount of compassion and perception on life. Today I exhibit the same tenacity and strength my parents instilled in us from the moment of conception. My day starts at 6am every morning. I get up, shower, get dressed, get my son dressed, eat breakfast, and we’re out the door by 8:30. I’m at school by 9am and out by noon. My husband and I run personal errands and attend doctor’s appointments and whatever is not done by the time we have to pick our son up at 5pm has to wait until next time. Then straight home we go where I prepare dinner, feed and spend time with my son, and squeeze some study time in before 9pm. Some days I must be in to work by 5:30pm and I’m there until 1am. Then I go home and get straight to sleep so that I’m up by 6:30am to start my day over again.

My life is still challenging but I manage it all while being pregnant. Most people would agree that the schedule I have is impossible for a pregnant wife, mother, and student to manipulate and still maintain such agility and focus. My life is proof that nothing is too difficult with faith in your corner. The foundation I had as a child matured into the faith I live by today, and it’s faith that gets me up every morning despite all odds. Faith that one day I will reap the benefits of my labor just as my mother did. There are no sure answers in life, but with a little faith, there are sure advantages.