We don’t choose our parents and yet our parents have such a profound effect on our development. Our development that shapes our future, which shapes what kind of parents we’ll be.

As a freshman in high school, I was selected to be a state ambassador of music and asked to tour Europe with ambassadors from the U.S. to perform in different countries. What a dream! I was ecstatic and honored. I told my parents about it and my dad stated the obvious, “Well, we’re not paying a dime for it.” Sure, I knew I would have to raise the money. My dad’s eyes lit up and said, to my surprise, that he’d help me. He wanted to start by opening a bank account specifically for our fundraising money. So we went on raising money from friends, family, acquaintances, until we had almost made the few thousand that we needed, while my dad deposited the money and made the payments toward the trip.

Getting closer to the date of my trip, I received a letter in the mail. It said that the deadline had passed, and because they had not received any payments, I no longer have a spot on the trip. I started panicking. I ran to my father with the letter, asking why they’re telling me they received no payments. Please call and tell them they made a mistake- hurry before it’s too late! But I should have known. He told me he hadn’t made any of the payments for my trip because he needed the money to pay for bills and groceries and the roof over my head. He had solicited contributions from neighbors and coworkers in the name of his daughter’s talent and European opportunity, and then spent the money for himself. He lied to everyone. He let me believe that he cared enough to help me reach my goal.

Devastated, I run crying into my mother’s bedroom for some kind of solace. Like for most of my childhood, she was sleeping. It was the middle of the day. I wake her, sobbing, and tell her what had happened. She says in a tired, apathetic voice, “I’m sorry.” And that was it. Either not caring of the hurt that my father had caused or knowing that she was incapable of making it better.

When I was young and my parents would hurt me, I would write notes to my future self in my journal. These notes were what-to-do and what-not-to-do’s for when I had children of my own one day. And though I am sad that I don’t have these journals anymore, many of the ideas and thoughts that they contained have been burned on my heart.

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