One memory has continually popped into my mind during my time in Brazil. I remember my mother saying to me, “You don’t realize how lucky we are, you have so much to be thankful for” I shot back a reply of “No we aren’t, why do you always say that?” Meanwhile, in my head, I was listing all of the problems that I and my family had. We are poor for American standards. My mom and dad had separated and had a terrible custody battle for much of my childhood. I had recently lost my father. I share the responsibility of settling my father’s affairs. Almost all of my family lives a least three hours away. The list of my ungrateful thoughts goes on and this is the mindset I came to Brazil with.
I had a similar regard to my mom and brother. Being a teenager (on which my mom liked to blame my attitude), I was continually frustrated by my family. I wished my mom would have made that call for me or sent that letter. I wished she would stop nagging me about eating enough, about where I was going and about working too much. She told me for several months before I left that I would regret spending so much of my summer working and not spending time with my family before leaving. I sure do. I was always frustrated with my brother about his lackadaisical attitude toward things I thought were of the utmost importance.
How did they deal with me?
I feel like a different person in the way that I now look at my life in the United States. I have an amazing mother who I can talk to at any time of the day or night about anything. She does anything she can for me and the only reason I had to be annoyed with her is that she is a different person from me. Different in an amazing way. My brother simply has different priorities. He would help me with anything I needed, from fixing my truck to letting my friends and I borrow his snowmobile, just on his schedule, not mine. Not to mention that he is my best friend. My family and I were able to buy our first house several years ago with the help of my grandfather, where we and all of our animals are finally home to stay. No matter how difficult it was, I have always had what I needed, even when money was tight. Though some events in my life are never going to be positive in my mind, I am now able to see more clearly.
Brazil has allowed me to step back from my life and gain a new perspective. I now miss my family like crazy, more than I had ever imagined I would. I have been able to see how many families are much more broken than mine is. I now realize just how many people in our world live in poverty or much below American standards. I have been blessed with an amazing host family during my time here and they have unknowingly led me to these revelations. When I was pouting in my room on Christmas morning after receiving a happy birthday video from my mom including a song, lots of love, and even my dogs, my host family surprised me with a big birthday party complete with cake, ice cream, balloons and banners. I am trying to show them my appreciation as I wait for the chance to bring this attitude home to my real family.