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13 August, 2009

Thank You, Just Because

When I was younger, I used to envy certain friends and the relationships they had with their parents. So and so's parents were less strict, funnier, etc etc. There was always something I felt my parents were lacking. Now that I am older, and wiser, I realise that I could not have asked for better parents. Sure, our relationship was rocky at times. Yes, they were occasionally too strict. But, their intentions were always the best and, had I been raised differently, I would not be the person I am today.

So, although they do not read this blog, I'm writing them a thank you...for everything.

My mom was born in Moscow, Russia and my dad in Gumri, Armenia. They both did their graduate studies in Riga, Latvia where they met, married and where, subsequently, my sister and I were born.

Before either of them were 26, they had steady jobs in highly coveted fields (engineering and biochemistry), two daughters and a vision for the future.

When I was four, my dad accepted a research position at the University of Montreal and left for Quebec, leaving my mother, myself and my newly-born sister behind in Riga for several months while he saved money, found an apartment and ensured that we would arrive to a stable home. He arrived with literally $5 in his pocket and, in the span of a few months, managed to save enough to bring us over and provide us with a roof over our heads and basic necessities. Any and all extra income went to pay for my private school education. I went to a dual Armenian-French school, where the languages of instruction were Armenian, French and English. My mom walked the five plus miles to the grocery store and back every week instead of taking the bus, saving that money in order to buy me new school uniforms.

When I was little, I didn't think much about the sacrifices my parents made for me. I had an incredible childhood filled with travel, family and friends. I never felt that we were poor, and although I craved toys and clothing like most kids, I was surrounded by families who were immigrants as well and, therefore, the contrast between myself and the "locals" was never pronounced.

Now that I am older, and at the age my mom was when she was already married and had children, I am better able to appreciate the enormity of everything they have done for me. I would not be the person I am today without them.

My love of travel, facility with languages and ambition are all a result of their guidance. My dad bought me my first Celine Dion CD in French, thereby sparking what I am sure will be a lifelong obsession with the french language and culture (and, of course, Celine Dion). Being enrolled in one of the best private schools in Canada afforded me the education I needed and a knowledge of languages used worldwide.

My parents encouraged me to fill my life with culture, with learning. As a result, I speak numerous languages, am an avid painter, travel extensively, play tennis and dabble in a thousand other things.

My mother has never been to Italy, or France--but because of her support and the way I was raised, I was able to go.

Were I to be put into a situation right now where I had a family of my own, I am not sure that I would be able to make the sacrifices my parents did. They are the most selfless, motivated, family-oriented, loving people I know.

3 comments:

Simply Mel said...

Yes, you have very wonderful parents! You are an extremely lucky girl to be raised in the manner you were...kudos to your mama and papa!

Now that I am a parent, my only hope is to offer my little crumb the world, so we travel and introduce her to everything, everyone, and any language.

a taste of madeleine said...

This was a beautiful post. Your parents dedication and sacrifice really are honorable. Their hard work allowed you to become this wordly, powerful woman.
I am similar like you (another similarity! ha)- I'm an immigrant as well; my father came to the states first while my mom was raising 4 girls. What we first had in this country to what we have now- it really is amazing and it is thanks to hard, hard work! Like you, I wonder if I would be able to sacrifice the same for my future kids the way my parents did. But I think that is largely the point: our parents did so we wouldn't have to.
Brave to your parents, and to you!

p.s. I had a feeling you were partly slavic ;)

Anait said...

Mel, thank you! I am sure your little crumb will look back on all her travels and thank you, as well!! I can honestly say the fact that I traveled so much as a child had a HUGE impact on my life.

Madeleine, thank you :) Amazing, isn't it, what our parents have managed to accomplish? I think this sort of dedication and sacrifice is common in immigrant families...and you're right...they did it so we wouldn't have to. Haha your feeling was right! I guess we always tend to "recognize" our own people, no?