To understand where I'm from, you have to know where my parents are from.
My mom is the youngest of six and grew up on a farm. My dad is the one of four boys who likes to tell us he had one shirt for each day of the week. They grew up in small town Ohio. Met, dated for 6 months and were engaged. They were married when they were 18 and 20. Neither went to college. Almost 42 years later, they are still happily married.
In those 42 years, that young couple who didn't come from much made an amazing life for their family.
My dad went into law enforcement and retired second from the top in the state patrol. To accomplish this, we moved a lot as kids. I lived in eight different houses in four towns by the time I started third grade. Every time my dad got promoted, we moved. Sometimes he moved ahead of us, leaving my mom to deal with two young girls while trying to sell a house and work.
She stayed home with us when we were little, worked (part-time, I think) as we were a bit older and then worked full-time as a secretary/administrative assistant in the school district where my sister and I spent the most time. (This was both good and bad. If I forgot to get money or have something signed, she was right there. She was also very accessible to my teachers and while I was not a bad kid, I still remember my high school English teacher ratting me out that I feel asleep in class. Once.)
My parents worked their asses off. My dad worked his way up through the ranks and was so very successful. My mom worked her ass off so that my dad could succeed and my sister and I could have a good life.
I scored a 37 on this quiz about class and if you live in a bubble. (Hillary wrote about her background here.) My score puts me in the upper-middle class but also acknowledges that I tried to "get out" meaning I broadened my horizons beyond my bubble.
My score isn't surprising. I know I grew up in a bubble. I grew up in the 'burbs and had a lot of opportunities. But my parents tried to make sure we knew we were lucky to have what we did. When I turned 15, my mom made me get a job. She said I only had to keep it for the summer but I worked throughout the school year so that I had extra money to get the things my parents wouldn't pay for. (I worked at sub shop until I graduated from high school.) I volunteered to help feed the homeless with church and went on mission trips during the summer to help people in Appalachia repair their homes (I even installed an outhouse.) (And yes, I know this sounds somewhat, I don't know, condescending. My point is that while I lived a sheltered life, I knew it. I wasn't completely blind to what others had or didn't have.)
I realize that I was very lucky to grow up the way I did. We didn't worry about money (at least that I was aware of) and while I didn't have the latest designer clothes, I was well dressed and well provided for.
The things I remember my parents spoiling us with was their time and love. My mom always wanted to be the hostess. She would let us invite all of our friends over just to hang out - I think mainly because my parents knew we wouldn't get in trouble at our house. She made dinner for a dozen or more people most Fridays in the fall, having my friends over before home football games. She volunteered at my after prom and even drove me home from my prom instead of letting my date do the honor.
My childhood was sheltered. But as a journalist, I've been exposed to quite a bit. As a former cops reporter, I've been exposed to more than I could have ever dreamed. When I got hired for my first job at a daily paper, the editor told me he didn't know how someone who grew up in the suburbs would handle the job. It was shocking at times. I saw dead bodies. I was at the scene of murders at 3 a.m. as family members learned they just lost a son or father. I was back the next day as blood still pooled in the gutter and flowers and teddy bears marked a memorial. I knocked on the door of a family's home at 8 a.m., about 12 hours after they learned their 19-year-old son had been killed in Iraq. I've seen a mother who was arrested for letting her child starve to death.
It wasn't easy. I cried a lot on the drive home. It's given me a jaded view of the world and made me question the human race at times.
All of it made me appreciate my upbringing even more. It made me realize how lucky I am to have parents who worked hard to give me more than they had growing up.
But what I'm most thankful for is the work ethic my parents instilled in me. Without it, I wouldn't be able to provide for my kids. I want them to have a good life but I want to realize how lucky they are too. I don't want them to be spoiled but I want them to have all the same opportunities that I had growing up.
This is part of the reason we are working to move. We started this process about a year ago when the husband got a new job. In that time we've looked at houses in the suburbs and even some in the same neighborhood where I lived as a kid. It hasn't been an easy process but I hope in the end it will be worth it.
My childhood was great. I'll do what I can to give the same to my kids.