You wake up slowly. But it’s not because someone woke you up intentionally. It’s because the sun is gently peaking through the windows and shining into your eyes. It’s bright, but it’s good. It’s the start of what’s going to be a good day. You turn on some music and make breakfast with the ones you love while dancing around the kitchen and singing into a spatula.The day is spent outside because the sun’s kisses feel warm even though the breeze is cool. Going inside isn’t an option when you can lay in a hammock and read, go to the beach, or play a game of pick-up baseball with the neighbors. There’s no homework and no worries caused by social media buzzing away. The only electronic device allowed is a camera. Dinner time rolls around soon enough and whatever you’re about to eat will be cooked on the grill. Juicy watermelon and an ice cold glass of lemonade or iced tea are necessities to accompany the meal. Time passes without you noticing due to the conversation easily flowing across the patio table and the sun starts to set. Everyone decides they could use something sweet at this point, so you hop on your bikes and ride to the local ice cream parlor where you catch up with the people you haven’t seen all summer before returning back home. The night ends with a bonfire and even though you’re sticky with bug spray and tired from the long day, you gaze up at the stars and can’t wait to do it all again next weekend.
Looking back now, I realize how great I’ve had it growing up. These are the things that I loved most and owe my character to:
A handy dad
Sure, sometimes I was embarassed if my dad dropped me off in his work truck, or showed up somewhere in his paint covered clothes, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have friends whose dads are lawyers and doctors who are rolling in money. They get what they want, travel the world, but they know nothing about fixing anything, about cars, or regular street skills. My dad built me a window seat and headboard for my bedroom, he can make me frames like the one for the map I just hung in my room, and he built the most beautiful house that I’m currently living in. And if I said he wasn’t the biggest influence over my future career path, I’d be lying.
A stay-at-home mom
I don’t think I was materialistically spoiled when I was younger, but having my mom there for me 24/7 was definitely a luxury I had and not many other kids did. Acting as my personal cheauffer to my sometimes four practices in one day and to school or friends houses, a chef, and a million other roles that wouldn’t have been possible if she was working.
Softball, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer have been huge parts of my live since I was old enough to sign up for a team. They gave me a medium to be competitive and to be a leader, along with keeping me in shape. I had to learn how to lose (which I wasn’t very good at to begin with) and play well with others.
An older brother
I feel like anyone who grows up without one is missing out. He’s why I started playing sports and why I got into certain music or took certain classes in high school. We fought every single day when we were younger and sometimes still do, but now I know how to fight.
A Catholic background
I’m not currently practicing but every Sunday until I was confirmed in 8th grade, I was. That’s the reason I have the morals I do. And even though I don’t make it to church that often and say God’s name in vain sometimes, I owe my character to those catechism classes I was forced to go to for years. I know the difference between right and wrong and don’t think I would if it weren’t for this.
Parents that balanced each other out
My mom let me get away with things and encouraged me to take risks but my dad was always there to catch me when I fell. My mom is frivilous and wild and my dad is conservative and frugal. And because of their differing behaviors, I have a necessary balance.
Freedom, but not too much
For whatever reason, my parents have more trust in me than anyone should have in a 17-year-old. They granted me a lot of freedom, and with that, I learned responisibilty. Now, I never get in trouble because I know my limits, and that only furthers their trust.
Two very different sides of the family
On my mom’s side, there’s Mema and Grandpa Burkel: Catholic, conservative, loving, and family-oriented. My mom is one of seven, so I have six sets of aunts and uncles on that side alone, and a lot of little cousins. They grew up in the country and live a much simpler life. Every time I visit, I am exposed to something I don’t get to see at home and I love that. My grandpa is a professor of anatomy at the University of Michigan and my grandma is basically just a saint who volunteers her time, but on the side, she does seamstress work. I get craftiness from her.
On my dad’s side, it’s a different story. Grandma and Grandpa Oliver are on the wealthier side. They live on a lake and have a boat. They buy us fancy Christmas presents and take us to fancy dinners. And we always vacation with them and my aunt and uncle from Kansas (also wealthy). If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have half of what I do now.
Their differences have allowed me to experience a broad spectrum of opportunities that I very much appreciate.