Are you familiar with the phrase, ‘I know I’ve done something right’?
It’s a sense of achievement, of accomplishment. We may have done hundreds of mistakes but looking at the fruits of our labours, we also know we have done something right. And something good will be unveiled from that. We’ve done something right, and somehow, our lives have worth.
This post is for my parents.
I’m a bit teary at the moment. I have just read an article about the choice of being a stay-at-home mom. There, the author says that staying at home is not a sacrifice, it’s a choice – a privilege even. Even when she has a master’s degree, she chooses to be at home and takes care of the family. She says she looks at her mother, also a master’s degree holder, who stayed at home during her time and never felt like it was a waste.
She says that education has always been important, and she wants to impart this knowledge to her children. And there, in that sentence, I start to get teary.
Because my parents never had higher education.
My Dad never finished college, nor did my Mom. They were both high school graduates.
If you look at it, it seems bizarre. How could high school graduates send their children to Singapore, to Australia to earn education? How do they do it?
I never knew the life before, but my parents always tell me that things were just getting better when I was born. To that, I am the lucky one. I never knew the feeling of not being able to not have something. I never knew the feeling of living on tight budget, or hearing my parents say, ‘We can’t afford that.’ Not once. But before, we had nothing.
My grandparents from both sides used to be wealthy. But circumstances happened, and they were bankrupt at the same time. My parents married having nothing in their bank account.
So my Dad works. He starts some businesses in those early days, which don’t take off, and then joins one of the biggest companies in Indonesia. He climbs the corporate ladder – from a lowly employee to one of the top executives. He keys in the hours and works at dangerous places before he becomes who he is now – an expert in land acquisition who is highly respected by his employees.
The wonderful thing about my Mom is that she stays. She stays with my Dad through the thick and thin. My Dad used to have a temper, and I believe I have underestimated how tough the times were for both of them. But my Mom stays. And she takes care of us three children without complaining. She pushes us to be the best, to study, to instil our passion in education.
And it pays off.
Today, my parents, who never had any tertiary education, have witnessed their oldest child received her PhD. Their second daughter is a medical doctor, and their third is studying master’s degree.
I can imagine my parents, through their mistakes in parenting and building this family and everything they have gone through, looking at us and say to each other, ‘We’ve done something right.’
To that, I would say, Mom, Dad, you’ve done more than right.
My Bachelor of Arts’s graduation, 2012. Photo by Christina Purnama.