Growing up and Moving Out: Happy Birthday Nephew!


I don’t know if you are aware but I got rid of one roommate and have allowed my 22 year old nephew to move in (TEMPORARILY) into my office. His mom/my sister, upon hearing that I had taken him in commented, “You can have him in your home, you’re a tough cookie!” As the wonderful aunt that I am, I rarely see him but any time I do I ask him when he is going to move out. On his birthday, I got a glimpse of him and he had a split second to thank me for the birthday card I slipped under his door (I believe this was a thoughtful touch to keep things impersonal and not make him feel at home). 
As he was trying to chat- I interjected with my usual question, ” So, how’s the moving out going?” I don’t think he was in the mood then because, bless his little heart, he countered with, “you know Mary, it’s kind of hard to work and maintain a home and stuff on your own.” “Ha!” I laughed in his face, “you’re telling me?!!?” Mr. Nephew replied, “Yea, Mary, for you it’s easy…” My response in better detail and an ode to my dearest nephew on his birthday- this is for the rugrats in your life:
Ahem! Let me clear my throat!!!

   Yes, it is easIER for me because I laid the foundation. I went to school for 4 years AND a summer in upstate New York with the freaking cows. I went to an ivy league institution where within my first day of setting foot on campus I was taken to an auditorium with my fellow minorities and told that one or both of the people sitting next to me will not make it to graduation.
    I did not hit the jackpot when I made it to the “promised land” of college. My mom got laid off the year before and because they had used her previous income tax to calculate my financial aid package, I was on the hook for all that money. I worked and went to school. Nothing heroic or of a martyrdom nature… I handled my business and yes, at times my grades were not stellar (I do have one D- I heard they get degrees… or was that the C’s?).
     I somehow made it out of there alive and was damned if I knew what my next step would be. I started temp work when I realized I had no skills or qualifications or the imagination to figure out what to do with my life. I fell into finance, not because I was looking for money, but because that is where I was led. I can pretend that these were not decisions I made but simply circumstances I found myself in but that would be total b*llsh*t. I am old enough to know better. Every day we make conscious choices. I chose to study, be a nerd, work hard and power through some crazy sh*t. I was not fully equipped for the real world- the picking your career and life’s path of it. I am glad I have landed where I am and it has most definitely been an adventure.
    In the end I built a life that now may seem like it’s “easy” but that’s only because of all the hard work that has occurred behind the scenes. [Let us pause to give thanks for all the sacrifices everyone has made, all the good examples I got… we stand on the shoulders of giants and efforts, even my own] But to be quite honest, I will not be shamed or made to feel bad for all that I currently have. I came from a family that started out on food stamps (half a chicken with french fries from your local Chinese spot could be paid with brown and purple currency-this was apparently illegal but I was unaware). I laid the foundation for my (slightly more) comfortable lifestyle. I will not be shamed… I worked with what I had but I have a loooong road ahead to get to where I want to be.

     My goal is not to make life comfortable for anyone. To “help” you out- I am potentially depriving you of all the lessons you have yet to learn. I know that young kids/adults face their own challenges but the truth of the matter is that we are dealt different cards in life. This is your starting point (it may be being born into the lap of luxury or being the child of a drug addict etc). This is your personalized zero. Now what will you do with this? 

      The meaning of life is to learn to get along in the world. To learn to love and deal with a diverse group of people and situations. To learn to build even when our desire is to destroy. You must learn to manage your own circumstances. Life does not stop and I know that you will be hit with lots of unexpected things… But in the end, who you become will be determined by how brightly you were able to shine when the circumstance proved to be cruel, harsh and [to borrow from the young] just plain not fair.
     All of life is not fair and some of it even sucks but keep smiling. And please don’t make assumptions about how “easy” or “hard” it is for anyone else. We are all equipped to deal. Some chose to deal better than others. It is a choice- what will you pick? [Oh and by the way giving up is not an option].
    So, dearest nephew- when will you be moving out? 🙂 

Love,

Your Aunt M 

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