Once upon a time, in 1987, my mother’s employers (the people whose house she cleaned a few days a week) visited our home and captured this image. Our first family photograph. Happiness.
A family of four, living in a one bedroom council flat, our first home. I broke my arm while playing catch with my brother, throwing hair curlers to each other from our bunk beds. I missed, fell off the top bunk and crashed against our cupboard. We had our own beds!
Rewind to the time when I was the only child. We moved around A LOT, living in the living rooms of friends’ family homes or renting a bedroom in someone’s small house. Back then my bed was my baby bath while my mom and dad slept on the floor. Happiness, a family living together.
Poverty does not equate unhappiness. Poverty can borne a resilience and an appreciation for even the most miniscule of things, like having toothpaste to brush your teeth and toilet paper to wipe your ass. An appreciation for having the R15 to buy sanitary towels instead of the “flennie-lappie” your mother used to neatly cut up in rectangular shapes when menstruation came at a time of the month when a sanitary towel was a luxury, one that the family just could not afford! Or when you eat jungle oats for the second night in a row because well, times were tough.
Poverty does not equate an undignified existence because poverty can borne a resourceful mind that appreciates that dignity does not require money, but a certain mindfulness that recognises that the value of your life has got nothing to do with the cost of your lifestyle or the basics of living.
Poverty is when you lose your self-worth and seek your value in how others see you. It is when you go out into the world feeling worthless because all around you children are wearing the latest designer brands while your parents slave away day in and day out, yet their hard work is not reflecting in the clothes you wear. Poverty is when you fail to appreciate that which you have and constantly complain about the things you wish you had and pointing fingers at others – building up a resentment for what they have.
It is now in my adulthood that I recognise that back then the word poverty did not quite feature in our world, because our world was a happy one. A world where we had it all even though we had very little!
Whilst poverty is the reality of many, it does not have to be a life sentence! Your dignity does not need money nor does your self-worth! Living in poverty is not a choice, but it is your attitude towards the very little that you have that will be the difference in where you end up in life.
Give your children the gift of a happy childhood, no matter your circumstances. My childhood has taught me to see the world through a rainbow coloured lens, and today I strive to be that silver lining for my child. I can guarantee you that those happy memories will be your child’s comfort no matter where they end up in life as adults.
My wealth has very little to do with the balance of my bank account. The wealth of my world can be found in the life that I lead, in the company that I keep and in the ability to create my own happiness. It can be found in my recognition that I do indeed have an exceptional role to play in the life of my child, and in order to fulfil this role I surround myself with the wealth of knowledge and guidance of others.
Poverty is real, but it does not have to define where you end up in life nor does it have to negatively shape your character as a person.
22 thoughts on “How Poverty Shaped My World”
Beautiful article. Love it.
Wow what a piece, wow
Thank you – I believe that each individual’s life is filled with a richness that they sometimes fail to see, because it not the tangible kind . . . there is a certain wealth to be found in even that which may seem mundane.
What a gracious tribute to your parents!
Thank you Diana!
This is so true. You are truly a wealthy and talented person.
Thank you for writing this.
Thank you for popping in, it is always lovely to have you over!!
The richness you have inside your soul Chevone is already more than most people will ever be able to achieve and no-one can ever take that way from you. I loved reading this
Thank you Michelle!
What a beautiful post!!! I completely agree with you!!!
Thank you Laura.
Beautiful post! I was fortunate growing up BUT I make no secret of it and even my parents know this “I would’ve given up that life any time for a ‘normal’ happy childhood”. Cherish your parents….
Thank you, I hold on to these treasured memories and I feel quite fortunate that I can share these experiences with you and others through my blog.
This is such a legacy from your parents – I love that your world felt enough – and it was, because you had what so many long for – love and acceptance.
Thank you. As a parent I too hope that one day my son will think back to his childhood and feel a sense of happiness.
Your story has really touched my heart, thank you Chevone, so much…Valeriejoan Van Zyl
Thank you for visiting 🙂
This story touched me to the core, thank you for sharing it.
I am amazed at how many people have been touched by this post. Thank you 🙂
Touching post. And love your picture from 1987 you guys look so happy. I always think how I grew up and I will one day maybe post about it but I never felt “poor” . Thank you for sharing.
When I look at this pic it reminds me of all the stories my dad would tell us about growing up, and even then it was always happy memories. Childhood memories are very powerful . . .