I was watching Dragons Den the other day and after securing a deal with the Dragons, one of the guys said how proud his Mum would be if she were still alive now and how proud his Dad would be too. It got me thinking about how people strive for such a simple thing in life – to make their parents proud of them.
This simple phrase on TV got me thinking about my life and about all the times in my life when I could have made my parents proud. I don’t remember when I was young ever being told that my parents were proud of me. There were school plays, school tests, sports days and all those usual things and I just don’t ever remember anyone saying to me that they felt proud. It just didn’t happen – or it did but didn’t stick in my memory bank.
So I thought back to the first time that I could have been aware of my parents being proud of me being a possibility – when I took my GCSEs at the end of secondary school.
But, my parents had split up the weekend before my exams and I had been bullied throughout secondary school. When I finally sat those exams I wasn’t thinking about making my parents proud – I was thinking of just getting through with some sort of grade and being able to see the back of my school days. Life felt like it was falling apart at that point and I just wanted to get to the next stage of my life and put some pieces back together again.
I started college – three times over the course of four years – but never got further than the end of the first term. I didn’t get any further than that as I’d been forced to move out of home just after my 17th Birthday and had to work full time after that, renting a room in a house and seeing all my pay go on rent and driving lessons. Driving, for me, was the only way out that I saw – I thought it could make my world bigger, broaden my horizons and give me some freedom. But, learning to drive was the start of getting into debt – that took the best part of decade to get out of.
The next two years were pretty much hell for me. A cycle of work and going out in the evenings but all with no real purpose, living from one week to the next with no real plans, no direction and making so many mistakes. It was a really tough time.
By the time I met my future Husband, David, I was in debt and I had very few relationships with family and just a couple of friends outside of work. But, over the next five years the pieces of my life seemed to fit together again and life got better.
David and I bought a house, we got cats, we made good friends and we got further along in our careers. By the time we got married no-one would have realised the broken years that had come before us meeting. And I know, on our wedding day, my Dad and my brother – two of my only family to be there – couldn’t have been prouder of me.
But since then, in the last eight years since that day, David and I have been building our life – we have bought our forever home and started extending it. I managed to further my own career but am now self employed with a good work/life balance, we have had two beautiful children and we are now at a point where aside from our mortgage we are debt free and we are able to just enjoy life.
I know, without a doubt, that my Dad is proud of me. He doesn’t have to tell me, but he has seen my life unfold, from childhood until now. He has seen the ups and downs and he knows the things I have overcome. The same with my brother. He too has lived many of the highs and lows that I have, but being five years older he was always there to watch over me, to try and shield me from some of it and to experience it with me. He is proud of me, just like I am proud of him.
But with everything that I achieve, and that our family now achieve, I don’t go into it looking to make anyone proud. I go into it looking to make our family happy, to build foundations for our future and to make life as positive as possible for us and those around us.
I think of our children, as they are now and as they grow and I hope they make decisions in life that will make them happy, that will be the best decision for them at the time and that they don’t just make decisions because they think it is what their father or I would want. I hope that making us proud is secondary to making themselves truly happy.
But even now, with the children aged three and five, they have made me prouder than they will ever know. I tell them constantly how proud I am – I acknowledge every achievement and every time they have tried their best. They will always know how proud we are of them – whatever their choices in life and wherever life takes them.