Mom grew up with all boys, the middle child in a family of three kids. Her dad was a short man with a slight frame, but a harsh demeanor and firm hand. He was what many people would call a "horse whisperer" these days. He didn't get along with people very well, but animals of all breeds and sizes loved him. Mom's mom was in her late 30's when my mother was born, and my Grandfather was near or in his 60's.
Dad grew up with all girls, the middle child in a family of three kids. His mom wasn't around very much, and I don't think he ever knew what an incredible woman she was. He missed out on knowing her. His dad was a practical joker that loved kids and worked hard all his life. Never a harsh word escaped that man when speaking with us grandkids. Dad's dad was in his 30's when my father was born, his mother in her late 20's.
I remember being yelled at for crying when a boy broke my heart in the 5th grade, and being told that my foot wasn't broken because I wasn't crying at 15 years old. Mom wasn't comfortable around emotions, having grown up with boys her whole life, but physical pain she understood. She's one of the toughest women I've ever known. When asked as an adult, her older brother freely admitted that she was the toughest person he ever fought as a kid, and he was far too often found in a fight.
I remember the near white-glove inspections dad would do on our rooms. He would do anything to make my mother happy, and if she complained to him of the state in which we kept our rooms, he made sure to fix it that instant. That often meant an arm being drug over my dresser or desk, emptying it of its contents. Sometimes it meant my bed matress would be flipped upside down and I would have toys broken with clothes hanging from the light fixture. If my room wasn't clean it would be trashed. It was harsh, but it was a reality in the household growing up. My brother lost many model planes that way.
My brother and I are polar opposites as well. His dark hair and eyes are a depiction of his personality, dark and mysterious, almost depressed. My hair and eyes are significantly lighter and brighter, hinting at my bright, positive attitude towards most things. He's a certified genius expected to do great things, like win a Nobel Prize. The family had a way of putting way too much pressure on him.
I barely scraped by in school, skipping classes, never having my IQ tested for fear it wouldn't be at even half the level his was at, and now I have a very successful career that I devote 80% of my waking time to. With no pressure put on me to succeed, and rather made to feel like I was expected to fail at everything I tried, I worked very hard to prove everyone wrong. When I landed a job as head of sales for North and South America years ago, traveling one week out of every month, the response from my parents wasn't "way to go, Kiddo" as I had hoped, but rather my mom telling me that she thought I should be a flight attendant. When I announced that I wanted to try out for the Highway Patrol, they asked why. When I told them I was doing well in the job I have now, they didn't sound like they even remotely believed me.
Test answers came easily to my brother, while life's answers came easily to me. Anger and frustration came too easily for him, since he was far more inteligent than most people he ever met, though he didn't understand that. My own biggest fault was that love came too easily for me. I was blessed with an overabundance of patience in these past few years, and that coupled with my desire to love the world and all who reside within it have set me back a few times. I've been patient in times when I shouldn't have been, and it only served to cause me grief later on.
He and I have both had our failures and successes. While many of you reading this have learned the truth about my son, my own family tends to look at me through jaded eyes, accusing me of having abandoned my child. My brother on the other hand is HIGHLY successful in this respect. He has a wonderful son he takes very good care of and loves very much. He'd never do to his ex what my son's father did to me. In fact, he understood that a boy should be with his mother and even if he had the power to do so I don't think he would ever take his son away from her. So while I failed at being a parent, my brother turned out to be a natural. His son adores him.
So while I have my mothers long legs and my fathers freckles, everything else I have could be said to be only mine. I have a tenacity to keep on going when faced with the worst of situations. I have a survival instinct that kicks in without my even realizing it. When I have my heart set on something, I refuse to give up until I've got it. Even though I hadn't ever truly been on my own until a year ago THIS MONTH, I've always been independant. I've always had that stubborn streak. But I've always had roommates or boyfriends or husbands... and in the end it never worked out because of that stubborn streak. Unfortunately it's the same story with my family.
I'm seen as impuslive and childish, though my family knows very little about me these days. I'm also kind, caring, sensitive, sweet and loyal for life to those who are loyal to me. I succeed for those that believe in me, though at one time I tried to succeed in spite of those who didn't. It's no longer about doing what it takes to prove someone else wrong. For a long time now it's been all about doing what it takes to make myself proud.
Good news should be easy to share. It should be easy to tell my family what's going on in my life. Yet I know that I will be met with adversity. I know they will, as always, disapprove of me and my decisions. They'll think I'm being impulsive and silly. They'll think I should give up the best paying job I've ever had in order to go be a flight attendant all over again. My answer won't be good enough, they'll want to help me make up my mind for finding another answer. Years ago I came to the conclusion that life wasn't about proving them wrong, or even proving myself right. Though I was angry, hurt and confused, I decided life was about taking care of myself and doing what I needed to do in order to get by. Their disapproval no longer holds sway with my decisions.
At one time their disapproval would have driven me towards what they didn't want for me more than anything else. For a while I even tried doing whatever it took to make them proud, but that didn't work either. My announcement that I wanted to go to college was met with a lot of disbelief, even while I took my online Physics class from Pasadena City College all those years ago. I was doing it for the wrong reason though. I wasn't going to school because I wanted to go. I was going because I wanted them to be proud. When it didn't work, I quit. Apparently they weren't surprised. Nobody was.
I've got some life changing things coming up before long, and when I share the news I'm not concerned with the reaction I will get. Honestly I could care less, and knowing my family as I do, I already know what reaction I will get. I just want them to know that it's going to happen, because it wouldn't be fair of me to have them learn from someone else.
I've always been that black sheep, but I've learned through my travels and many years without them that the black sheep is the happiest sheep, because they stand out from the herd as an individual. They think for themselves, not because they want to, but because life has made it a necesity. The black sheep is different, but being different isn't such a bad thing. In fact, I rather like it.