My dad has always been a doctor, for as long as I’ve known him. And my mom has always been a business woman for as long as I’ve known her. Interestingly, she’s always told me to marry a professional (kinda like what she did). Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am still unmarried and I earn a living having coined the career of being an “edu-preneur.” That’s a combination of being an educator and a business woman in one. This means that I’m a professional but I also ‘sell education.’
I like to think that I’m the perfect combination of both my parents. After all, I look like my dad; I believe in the value of education and the doors it opens for you and I enjoy being a part of organizations. Oh, how could I forget; I love to speak. Where the mom is concerned; I’m passionate and work off a vibe (I can’t believe I admitted that). Numbers make no sense to me (well they didn’t mean that much until yesterday when we examined our most recent audited financials). And, if I give you my word, then rest assured there’s a new school or new programme being offered somewhere in the Caribbean. I feel that a little risk taking is good for the soul. Or at least, so I tell myself every once in a while. I’m independent, creative and I love to hustle.
So here’s what I really learnt from my parents.
The value of time
My dad dropped my sister and I to prep school every morning (almost religiously) on route to see his patients, do a tubal ligation, hysterectomy or deliver a baby. He also picked us up every Monday and Friday. Daddy was always on time.
Mom dropped me to high school every day (I was on the second shift and that was more in tune with her daily schedule). She was rarely on time for pick up and I resented the fact that I was often late for my different after school activities. Laura didn’t seem to care. What a complex paradox?!
Today, Laura is a sucker for punctuality while I am lot more easygoing where time is concerned. Which leaves me to wonder how important time really is? Isn’t the time spent more important? Has it mattered now that I’m turning 35 years old, whether my dad was on time or my mom was late?
The importance of family
Both Daddy and Mummy were passionate about their parents. My mom flew to Miami every Thursday. She left on that Air Jamaica first flight and returned on the last flight. She would go to her own mother and do super market shopping with her before meeting suppliers, linking with her shippers and returning home. She did this every week always kissing us before she left in the morning and always again when she came home late at night.
Daddy would take his mom to the super market too. And to the dressmaker, to visit her friends, and anywhere and everywhere we went. He always made her feel safe especially after my papa died. He did this in between checking my homework, taking me to the book store every Saturday and rehearsing his lines for lodge.
Today, Laura and I are love to pile more things onto our professional lives as we secretly enjoy the challenge of finding a way to balance it all. It makes quality time feel different. But the important thing is that we still find time for our family.
Dad paid the school fees way before school started and had the voucher ready and waiting. He explained many times what he was paying for and made no hesitations to tell you the expectations he had; i.e. the return on his investments. Mom, on the other hand made us understand very early what a bounced cheque meant. Thankfully, there were always other kids in the group at swimming who I would find some solace with, whose parent had the same plight. This meant not completely the several hundred metres to get a special reminder for our parents. Maybe this was Mummy’s way of saving me from hard work; after all there was homework to be done (and of course with Daddy).
Today I am so grateful when payments are made on time, look forward to ROIs, have a written a few cheques that have bounced but continue to treat money as it is: something that comes and goes. One day you have a lot, the next day you have none. Now I wonder does it really matter how much of it you make, lose or spend?
Both my parents read, read, and read some more. Daddy was always reading Time, Newsweek, a green copy of Obstetrics & Gynaecology or a biography. Mom used to love Danielle Steele, self help and then metaphysical titles found in Barnes and Noble. Today Laura and I love to read. She prefers manuals and directions. I prefer blogs and books. But the fact is we read (and they still do too).
A satellite dish in the 80s proved for CNN morning, noon and night. Jeez. This helped us with a more smooth transition to boarding school and college. We didn’t feel like we were the dingbats from a third world country that everyone else thought we were. Today I read the news on my phone and Laura refuses to start the day without catching up on channel 152.
The reality is that children learn so much from their parents. And they learn when it’s going great and when the going gets tough. I’ve learnt everything I know from watching them deal with life, with parenting, with families and I like to think that I’m better able to manage life in this crazy world because of how they handled it.
As we celebrate Parents’ Month in Jamaica, I urge you to think back on your own memories of your parents and how you have inspired by them. Let’s think carefully about the children we want to create and avoid sugar coating things too much. After all, I came out fine (or so I think).