Where I live, people consider themselves accomplished if they can buy a house, own a car, and take one or two vacations every year. For most of my life, I thought these were the achievements my sister and I have stolen from our parents.
After all, we grew up in a modest family. We always stayed in rented houses. We only dreamt of having a family car. And through our first 14 years of life, there were no vacations, but only the traditional summer holiday spent in the countryside, with our maternal grandparents.
Flashbacks From My Childhood
I recall coming back to town in autumn, before school. Our friends were telling stories about going to the seaside or the mountains. We could only tell them stories from harvesting the watermelons.
I recall my parents whispering late at night how they needed to borrow money, a few days before the monthly paycheck was supposed to come in.
I recall my father’s exasperated face whenever I was coming and asking for extra money for school, to buy different books or pay some fees.
I recall my parents’ fights, grown out of the daily worries, tensions, and work stress.
But despite all that, we always had a warm room to sleep in, good food on the table, and decent clothes. Our parents even made tremendous efforts to take us both through the university — all these at the considerable cost of never accomplishing something for themselves.
Or so I thought, for nearly 30 years.
I Had Different Plans. Then, Life Happened
Despite my limited possibilities as a child, I envisioned a different future for myself. I told myself I’d do better than they did. And the only thing I wanted to do just like them was to have children early on. I was that naive to dream of having two children and rock-solid financial independence in my early 20s.
Then I grew up, graduated from university, moved to another city, and got my first job.