The moment I realized I grew up poor.
Eating noodles or rice and beans everyday seemed normal to the 7 or 8 year old me. It is surprising how nourishing simple white rice and black beans can be. Also, inexpensive. But my mom narrates to me how poor we were. I would cry because of hunger and my mom would cry because she couldn't get me food. My siblings would save food from their share to feed me.
I am not particularly rich today but I have the luxury of asking my girlfriend what she would love to eat. Since we are both into fitness, we indulge in a lot of healthy cooking which saves our money because we don't eat out regularly. However, we have enough to indulge in ice cream once in a while. Life seems good.
#17 She really is something.
My parents divorced when I was growing up and my mom was working full time. 3 kids and a mortgage was a lot of pressure for her but she never let us realize how poor we were. Till this day my siblings and I were amazed by our mother's strength. My grandma would look after us and now when I look back, I feel lucky to have spend so much time with her.
#16 Growing up in a U-Haul.
Living with my mom was living in a cheap motel. We had no fridge and would store the milk in the snow outside. We would split the small milkshake from McDonald's and we were 6 in all. During cross country moving we would ride in a U-Haul since we couldn't afford a car and I sat on the floorboards under the dash.
#15 All taken care of.
My science teacher from 8th grade had suggested that I should go to an engineering science summer camp but it would cost me $250. My parents couldn't afford to send me. But guess what! My teacher arranged for it by asking the school board to pay for me and let me go. I now go to the same university that hosts the summer camp.
More such stories ahead.
#14 Nothing to worry about.
A kid in my middle school would make fun of my sister and me because we had the free lunches at school. Those weren't reduced cost lunches, they were free lunches. In fact, a reduced cost lunch costed $0.48.
There was this one time in school when I had gotten fruit punch on my textbook and started to panic when I thought my mother would have to shell out $60 for replacing this one. However, my teacher informed that they were getting new books and there was nothing to worry about.
#13 Made of a golden heart.
I got a really crappy pair of basketballs shoes for $30 since I didn't have the budget to spend on shoes.I did not have enough time to work in the fall so I was broke.And my parents didn't have money to help either.
During the tournament when I was getting ready to shoot a free throw, I heard my opponents saying nasty stuff about my shoes and the ref heard them and warned them against using such language again. The truth was that I lived in a trailer and when one of my teammates told the coach, he let me wear his shoes during the games for the rest of the year.
#12 Hunger pangs.
The 10 year old me realized we never had enough food when I told my mom I was hungry, she said she was hungry too. We just didn't had food to eat.
#11 Spaghetti bolognese?
Growing up in South Africa, we had transitioned from being a middle-class family to poor without noticing for the longest time. My sister and I realized this one day when we were having one of our favorite meals of the week,spaghetti bolognese. But the meat sauce was,in fact,lentils cooked and grounded to resemble beef in the sauce. This is when I took up a job as a golf caddy and helped as much as I could.I have immense respect for my parents for having kept their pain away and still serve us our favorite dish with a slight twist.
Next few stories might touch your heart. Continue ahead.
#10 Free school lunch.
I would always look forward to the free school lunch since that was the only meal I could get in the day. I would feel terrible since my mom would stay hungry so that I could eat and dad would give up his lunch because he felt pathetic since his family was hungry and he could do anything.
#9 Superficial families.
I was 6 and we were with our extended family and they had a huge Christmas tree. That's when I realized we were poor because my dad could manage to get my siblings and me 1 or 2 presents whereas everyone else had multiple presents. My extended family was terrible. My dad got them shirts from his workplace and they assumed he got them for free and got mad at him. But in fact, the shirts cost him $15 each and was deducted from his paycheck. He had 1 brother and 8 sisters in all.
#8 Meal for one.
It was when my parents took me to McDonalds to eat. They just watched me eat,not because they weren't hungry but because they could afford only one meal.
#7 Dad's or Mine?
On my birthday, the new clothes I wore were in reality my dad's old clothes which were cut to fit me.I was extremely happy to have clothes like his. They also had the cement stains on them.
The tales don't end here. Go on.
#6 Orange juice.
In order to use it for longer, my mom would add twice the amount of water in the frozen orange juice concentrate. I got to taste the real orange juice in my late teens.
#5 Helping hands.
I was young when my parents split. And my dad had money with him but my mom needed help. She got help from a lot of people including neighbors,friends,food pantries. My siblings and I would steal money from our dad's wallet so that our mother could at least buy the groceries.
Between divorcing my dad and getting married to my stepdad, my mom (of 3) was working 3 jobs. We lived in a clamped bedroom rental house. All our furniture were second hand and donated to us. But she always made sure there was food on the table. Gifts on Christmas and birthdays were from dollar stores and the like. But I remember vividly on my 7th birthday I got a bike which my mom had actually picked up from someone on the street who was throwing it away. She fixed it and made it look brand new. My sisters and I grew up realizing how hard our mother worked for us.
#3 Biggest influencer.
I started working since I was 15. My paycheck would go to my parents. My dad would discuss sports with me like he would with an equal and my mom would entrust me with things to do which you don't trust a child with. I would take care of my siblings because my parents were always working. My day started at 5.30 am and went on till 9.30.I got to sleep on weekends but that was a rare thing. By the time my siblings grew up, my parents were doing well and hence my siblings did not have to slog it off like I did.
However I realized how important I was to them all when my brother named me as his biggest influence at his graduation speech because I looked after him when our parents were away. My mother who was sitting next to me was crying incessantly.
All my stuff I owned were not actully mine. My mom saved from my older sister's things. They were 10 and 12 years older to me. And even though I was born in 1990, my parents find it tough to distinguish between my sister and me since we had the same look since 1980.However, it wasn't that bad,I was lucky enough to inherit cool stuff like Strawberry Shortcake toys,Care bears and VHS tapes.
#1 Fresh fruits in the house?
There was never a moment of clarity as such. I would never ask for anything that I knew we could not afford. I also tried really hard to not complain about my brother's hand-me-downs. And was pleasantly happy to find a fresh fruit in the house.
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