The Hands that Mold: My Family

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For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about my family.

I was lucky to grow up in a family that values learning and intellectual pursuits.  I might not have turned into the person I am without all the family influences in that direction, so I’m very grateful to both my immediate and extended family for always encouraging me in my drive to learn and then to write and create.

Growing up, it was just my parents, my sister and me.  We moved around a decent bit, especially when I was younger.  We’d live somewhere for a few years, once as little as eight months, before Dad’s job forced us to move once more.  It made for an interesting childhood.  I lived several placed before I started school, and because of all the moves I attended two elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools.

I think all the moving helped me become even more adaptable.  Change was a big thing in my life, so I learned to roll with it and live with it and find my new place in the new town and school.  Some moves were harder than others, but my parents were always there to support me no matter what.

One thing that really sticks out about my parents is how they decided to deal with teaching me that it wasn’t okay to stay up late reading with a flashlight under my covers.  This trend started in late elementary school when I finally seemed to catch the reading bug.  My parents decided my punishment for getting caught would be to wash the family car.  They’d take away both the flashlight and the book when they caught me, but each time I owed them a carwash.

They wanted to punish me, and teach me that I couldn’t do that, but they didn’t want to discourage me from reading, just doing it after bedtime.  I can’t speak to how successful a deterrent it was, because I still stay up reading after bedtime and I’m pretty sure I owe than a few car washes, but I have to thank them for thinking through the problem and coming up with a solution that wouldn’t discourage me from reading.

That can pretty much sum up my relationship with my parents over the years.  They wanted to guide me to grow into a strong, independent, smart woman while also encouraging me to follow my passions and dreams.  They let me play whatever instrument I wanted in orchestra or band, going so far as to rent a cello for me in fifth grade, and buy a second hand flute when I switched to that in seventh.  They even shelled out for private lessons when I had to learn to play a tenor, then baritone saxophone so I could join the jazz band my freshman year of high school.

This support continued from my parents as well as my extended family when I entered college.  My grandparents had been saving up since my sister and I were born and helped pay for our college education.  None of them ever discouraged me from majoring in English and specializing in creative writing.  They knew it was my passion, so they supported me in my decision.

My aunt and uncles have also been supportive over the years.  They all bought my book before I could offer to give them a copy for free, and they all read it too.  My aunt was an English major in college, and she’s always encouraged my love of books.  As I was growing up, she always sent books for Christmas.  And without fail, if it was a book she sent me or one she recommended, I loved it.  She sent me fantasy books, and books about books, and books by authors I’d end of reading every single work they published.  She really encouraged my love of stories over the years and I can’t thank her enough for that.

I thought about making an entire post just for my sister, but I think I’ll go ahead and talk about her here.  My sister taught me a lot of life lessons over the years.  Some of them she taught by example, some with experience, and others simply by being there and living beside me.

Some of the best things my sister has taught me are about our relationship.  She taught me that sometimes sisters argue and sometimes they hate each other, but they always love each other and always defend each other.  She might have been able to pick on me to her heart’s content, but she’d never stand for anyone else doing it.  So when someone picked on her for having glasses the first day she wore them to school, I talked back to a kid three years older than me who had probably never heard me talk before.  I’m not sure if he shut up because I was yelling at him or because the first thing he ever heard me say was dressing down an older kid.

My sister also taught me a lot about life.  She taught me about friendship, about relationships, and about mental illness.  Since a lot of those experiences aren’t mine to tell, I’m not going to get into the details, but suffice it to say that she’s always been there for me, even when she was being a total brat because we moved the summer before her senior year of high school.  And as the years have continued on, we’ve only gotten closer.

Today, she’s one of my best friends again.  We may not spend as much time together as we once did, or as we want to, but we see each other regularly and talk on the phone in between.  She’s had a daughter and brought an entire new world of lessons and learning into my life.  (Let me just say that children are hard and being a parent is both amazing and scary based on her experience.)  And through all the ups and downs, my sister has always supported me and my goal to become a writer.  Even when she has no time, she still offers to read things for me and help copy edit when I need it.

So the long and short of it is that my family has shaped me into the person I am today as well as the writer I’ve become.  I’m eternally grateful for my family and all the support they’ve given me over the years.

I’d love to hear from you about your own family and what they’ve supported you to dream and do.

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