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My Perfect Life

Katie Royce

When I think back to my childhood and the many issues I was faced with, one issue that always comes to mind is growing up without the presence of my father and being raised in a single parent household. The reason that this holds such significance is because the lack of involvement of my father in my life helped to form who I am today. My father not being present in my life did not leave a void, contrary to most people's opinions. I can say that I see how my childhood affects me negatively and positively. Growing up in a single parent home was never an issue with me because the majority of my friends were in the same type of situation.

My earliest memories of watching certain television shows such as "The Brady Bunch," "Family Ties," "Silver Spoons" and "Good Times" made me wonder what I may have been missing out on since my father was not in the picture unlike the television families I was watching. I remember one episode of "Family Ties" where Jennifer was upset because someone at school called her ugly and she came home crying. It was Steven, the dad, who comforted his daughter by telling her she was the prettiest girl inside and out and then gave her a big hug calling her " his princess." This made me think what it may be like to have my father solving my problems.
I was eight months old when my parents divorced. Fortunately, I didn't have much to go through such as the ugliness of divorce nor did I have a father to miss. When I refer to the ugliness of divorce it's not from experience but from I see on television or what I hear from my friends. One episode of "Oprah" comes to mind when I mention the word divorce. One of the guests was a psychologist. He was trying to help children deal with the trauma of going through a divorce through different children's workshops.

I remember one little eleven year old boy that was asked what made him feel bad to which he replied, "My parents divorce was all my fault. I heard them arguing over who was going to pay the hospital bill for my surgery to correct my club feet. If I weren't around they would never have had anything to argue about." I cried so hard after listening to him and other kids trying to explain why their parents marriage wasn't working anymore. Hearing these children's stories I finally realized how lucky I was to not have to have gone through the divorce with my parents.

Growing up it was just me and my mom. I wouldn't change a thing. We did everything together. We always laughed so hard, and everything we did with one another and every where we went turned out to be one adventure after another. My mother was a real trooper. One night I was watching some nature program on "NOVA" about earthworms and decided that my next pet would be exactly that, an earthworm. When I told my mother about this, she explained to me that earthworms only came out when it rained and we couldn't get one at the pet shop. Needless to say, a couple of nights later mom says, "I'll bet there are some worms out tonight, it rained all day!" I was so excited. We got a coffee can and a goldfish net and went off on our "wormhunt" in which we were successful, although they didn't survive for very long.

As I watched the sitcom, "Mr. Belvedere," I remember thinking how weird it would be to have "boys" living in the same house as you. The reason I felt this way was because I had no brothers, no sisters, and no father living with my mom and I. I had no desire or any idea what it would be like to live in a full house, having to wait for the bathroom or having to share things with a bratty sibling.

I also remember watching different after school specials, "Degrassi Junior High," to name one of them, where the character Wheels had to split his time between his mom and dad's. This was another part of divorce that I didn't have to deal with unlike one of my best friends in grade school. She had to spend the weekends with her father in the suburbs. She thought that was one of the most terrible things in the world. I remember her yelling at her mother, "If you and dad weren't divorced . . ." and so on.

I didn't grow up in an era where divorce was taboo. Even Carol and Mike Brady were on their second marriage for crying out loud! I was raised in a time frame where the word marriage was becoming so loosely used and divorce was so common. A friend of mine who had recently married mentioned something about if she were to get a divorce that would be the decision she would have to make. She then went on to tell me the steps she would take.

Even when I was a child I tried to picture my future family and all I pictured was my children and myself. I thought about how difficult it would be to raise children by myself, not even wondering or caring if their father would be around. Now my views are completely different which is a combination of my being older, and being with a good man with whom I would want to share the joys of a family with. Experiences of growing up in a single parent household has made me the person I am today.

As I got a little bit older, there were times where I had to come home to an empty house which by the way, made me feel so grown up like the girls in "The Babysitters Club" books. Sometimes my mother wasn't able to pick me up from school. When this would happen my friends and I would walk home together. I would go home, do my homework without having to be told, make my after school snack, and sometimes even tidy up the house all before my mom came home from work. During these quiet times at home by myself reading books by my favorite author, Judy Blume, I remember thinking I am so glad I didn't have a little brother like Fudgie running around driving me crazy.

All of these things contributed to me becoming independent because I had to be independent, not to mention wanting to be independent. I just can't understand how even with both parents in the picture they still struggle with the whole meaning of family values. If you don't believe me turn on Jenny Jones and look at some of the women in their teens, twenties and older disrespect and embarrass themselves on national television. Better yet, flip on Maury Povich and watch a young girl or boy slap his grandmother or threaten to kill his mother with a butcher knife, maybe boot camp will straighten them out.

Nature and nurture both play a role in who we are today. I was very fortunate to have such a wonderful mother who never made me feel like I was missing out on anything by not having my father in my life. I also think it is interesting how even at a young age, media forms such as television and books played such an important part in helping me form my own opinions and comparisons of what a so called "normal" family should be and how I should feel.

In conclusion, despite all the "perfect" families I watched on television or read about in books, I never felt like something was missing. This was the family I loved and I wouldn't have it any other way. This has taught me that families come in all different shapes and sizes, especially nowadays. As long as there is love, discipline, and strong family values, you don't need to be the perfect television family.

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