Being raised by my dad was definitely interesting. My parents separated when I was 8. After an epic custody battle my dad gained custody. Not really sure how he managed to feed us. I don’t think he knew how to cook. But he did make a great chocolate chip pancake.
As we grew, he had to deal with bra shopping and menstruation. Some of the best family stories come out of these events.
He remarried when I was 10. Merging 2 families. He spent his weekends making a portion of our garage into a bedroom for my new sister. I had no idea he was handy. But he did that so we would all have our own rooms. No sharing.
My dad is a hard ass. All of my friends knew that. I wasn’t able to follow the crowd on many occasions. I think it changed the trajectory of my life my sophomore year. He said “no” a lot. I started to think about peer pressure differently. He was looking out for my well-being and my future and I guess I thought that he knew better as he was older and wiser. My friends changed, therefore my path changed.
When we were old enough to work, he encouraged us to get a job. I am so glad he did. Learning the value of the dollar. How to save up for something you want. How to balance a check book and how to be manage all of your responsibilities. Work, school and hanging out with friends. I was a waitress at one of the busiest restaurants in town. I was bringing home a lot of cash every shift. By the time I was 16 I had enough money to buy a car. My car. Paid for with my money. Brand new. Right off the lot. I had to pay for my insurance and gas. None of my friends were doing this and I sometimes thought it wasn’t fair. But looking back he taught me many great lessons and prepared me for getting out there on my own.
I moved away for college and those responsibilities came with me. I took the first year off from working as I had enough money to carry me through. But when I got a speeding ticket the following year I didn’t have enough money to cover it. So I went back to work. Waiting tables again. I hated it. 2 weeks of training and they only gave me 4 tables when I started working independently. I hated the job and the hours so much I quit after I made enough money to pay my speeding ticket. He found out about the ticket because I was on his car insurance. I couldn’t get anything past him. He told me he would have rather paid my ticket than having me get a job. That my grades were more important.
After graduation my dad and step mom drove from VA to Miami to pack up my stuff and bring me home. It didn’t take long for them to realize I was sick. I was falling asleep at the wheel and I wasn’t eating anything. We later learned I had mono and I was malnourished. I weighed 113 pounds. My diet was horrible. A scrambled egg with a triangle of toast for breakfast. Dinner was a package of Lipton cheesy noodles.
I stayed with my parents, for about 8 months. I was working and hanging out with them watching more television than I ever wanted to. Moving home was hard after having so much freedom. He still had me on a 12:30am curfew. His house, his rules.
I moved out. First stop Atlanta. It didn’t work out. So I headed south to be with my college friends. I didn’t work for awhile. I just hung out. Then I got mono again. That’s crazy. When I told my dad he wanted to know what kind of guys I was kissing. LOL! I wasn’t. After I started feeling better I went out and got a job. A good job. With good benefits and a 401K with company matching. I told my dad all about it and he helped me plan my budget and my future. I began living in my own apartment, paying all of my own bills and contributing to my 401k. My company matched to 6% so that was my contribution. I raised it 1% every year I was with that company and started quite a nest egg for myself. I continued that plan through my entire career.
And too many years later…I carry those lessons with me. I share what I learned with young people I have worked with and I hope my nieces and nephews are getting the same lessons.
Hey dad, thanks for getting me ready for the real world. I know you taught me more lessons than the ones I mentioned today. But today I want to thank you for teaching me that working hard, saving for your future and making time for your health can get you everything you need.