When I was a child, I despised the fact that my parents often said to me, “Veronica, don’t get your hopes up.”  They said this to me a lot, and it made me angry.  I felt that they didn’t want me to be happy, or didn’t want me to get whatever I was wishing so hard for.  But, now that I am a parent, I’m beginning to understand why they felt the need to say this phrase in particular.

As parents, they couldn’t bear to see me so disappointed when I wished so high for something that they couldn’t provide, was impractical or that I couldn’t achieve.  They loved me too much.  But, I never heeded the call.  I continued to live my life with my hopes up, and I created much disappointment to myself and created worry for my parents.

Growing up in New Jersey, USA, we were considered a low-income household back then.  But, I had large hopes and dreams.  The younger I was, these hopes were made up more of material items, and the older I became, they were more along the lines of opportunities or experiences.

For example, as a child I followed all the rules during the years that I asked Santa for a dog, a horse and a surfboard (hey, they were different years, I wasn’t that greedy).  I did all my homework, I got straight A’s at school, I did all my household chores, and I kept my room tidy.  I even said my prayers every night and went to church every Sunday back then.  I was bound to get what I wanted most at Christmas!  All three of those years my hopes were HIGH as a kite.

And, of course I heard, “Don’t get your hopes up, Veronica.”  They knew.  They knew these gifts weren’t coming.  It didn’t matter how good of a person I was, how hard I worked at my tasks at hand, how much I helped others, how much I prayed or how much I thought about it.

On Christmas morning I woke up, ran into the living room, voraciously unwrapped my gifts, but no dog, no horse, no surfboard, in those respective years.  Who didn’t like me out there?  Why couldn’t I have what I wanted most?  Some of my friends owned these coveted items.  What more did I have to do????

(In hindsight, maybe a lesson in global stratification would have been very useful at this time to help me to realize how I HAD, in fact, on a larger scale, won the lottery.  By global comparison, which was beyond my understanding at the time, I was, indeed, a “lucky duck” to have my low-income status in the U.S., and I realize this now.)

But, in a day or two, I would come to terms and begin to enjoy the gifts that I did receive.  I sound like a real spoiled brat, right?  But hey, I was just a kid, so cut me some slack.  And, I will tell you now that when it comes to donating holiday gifts, I’m doing more than my fair share through various organizations because I “get” that feeling that kids get around the holidays.  I know there are good children out there that deserve to get cool things every once in a while that no one else can provide for them.

So, I’m finished right?  Lesson learned.  Well, no.

I never stopped getting my hopes up.  I never stopped wishing for good things, sometimes, impossible things.  And, when they didn’t work out, I fell, and often fell hard.  But, I always managed to pull myself out of whatever despair I managed to get myself into along the way: no horse, a college spring break I couldn’t afford to go on, a lost love, the death of my grandfather and many, many heartbreaking pregnancy losses, to name a few.  And, I’m no fool.  There will be more disappointments in life that I must overcome.

But, I will continue to get my hopes up and wish for things and set goals for myself.  And, here’s why.  Because even though my power to hope soooo high and get soooo excited about things and think soooo positively is dangerously worrisome to myself and those who care about me most, I look at all the ways in which it has made my life better.

These include my first trip to Europe back in high school (thanks to saving every penny from my job at an ice cream store), a summer across the world in Japan (thanks to scholarships), a private college education that I couldn’t afford (but could afford, thanks again to scholarships), a loving family, a loving husband who thinks he’s won the wife lottery (don’t tell him otherwise, ok?), my daughter who means the world to me, another child on the way who will also mean the world to me, good friends, a better income status and a lovely family in law (I’m even being honest here).

See, even though it is true that things can get disappointing in life, we all have a choice.  We can either relish in the misery and stay there and achieve nothing, or we can pick ourselves back up, fill up our hopes again and keep trying for what fulfills us in life.

I choose to keep trying.

And, in turn, I will promise to encourage my children to get their hopes up and be the bravest of dreamers.  Knowing that, as their mother, it is inevitable that I will lose some sleep and need to take a TUMS when things don’t go the way they expect, and they hurt, and I worry.

But, I will never tell them not to get their hopes up.  And, I will relish in their enthusiasm when I see they can find the courage and strength on their own to get their hopes up again and move forward.  And then, when they get to that point in life where they can do that, I will truly know that my lesson has been learned.

Parents often feel pressure to fulfill all of their children’s wants, even when it is out of their financial comfort level.  How do you feel about this?

This has been an original World Moms Blog post by Veronica Samuels.  Veronica is an avid recycler that thinks too much, so she blogs to keep her thoughts from going to waste.  She can be found on her Facebook Page or on Twitter @VeronicaSamuels. Veronica is also a contributor to Jersey Moms Blog.

Photo credit to  http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o140/ladykestrel01/thumbnails/GiftBox.jpg.  This photo is being used in accordance with the photobucket terms.

 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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