Throwback Thursday #9 – Independence

Maggie is our host today for Throwback Thursday Memory Blog Hop.  We alternate hosting each week and this week, Maggie has chosen the topic of independence. It’s easy and fun to join in. We are having a great time reading the blogs of those that choose to participate.

  • Write your own post sharing your memories and leave a pingback to this post in the comments.
  • You can use the photo above in your post to make it easier to find.
  • Tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen.
  • If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below.

Learning to be independent is a critical step in adolescent development. Some people ease into it a step at a time, and others plunge in all at once. When did you start to feel independent? Maybe it was when you finally had your own bedroom, or perhaps the first time your parents let you stay home alone. Or maybe the first time you slept over outside your own home. Money can signify independence. What was your first job? Maybe independence was transportation – a new bike, your driver’s license, a new car or your first trip on an airplane. Or maybe, it was when you moved away from home – maybe into a college dorm, or an apartment of your own or maybe it was moving in with a significant other and sharing space outside your parent’s home. Or maybe it was something else entirely. What milestones signified your search for independence?

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To be honest, I don’t remember a time when I did not feel independent. I felt like I was on my own most of the time. My mother worked two or three jobs when I was a kid. We were often latchkey kids, and my older brother was supposed to “watch out” for us. I have few good memories of times with him. He was typically harassing me or bothering me or ordering me around. I was the middle child and the only girl. I was in charge of the laundry, ironing, dishes, cleaning etc. since I was nine years old. I felt like a little kid doing the work of an adult.

I think I felt the first truly joyful independence when my older brother joined the military and left the house. I was 15 and I knew my mom wouldn’t be home until 3 AM. My friends wondered why I didn’t do the stupid things other teens we knew did. I never smoked. I never did drugs. (Well actually I tried pot once and threw up.) I never drank. (Being raised with abusive alcoholic stepfathers makes you never want to drink.) I was totally independent and could do whatever I wanted. My mom taught all of us, that whatever decisions we made, we would have to bear the consequences. That, along with knowing that I was totally responsible for myself kept me on the straight and narrow. I am happy with the choices I made.

Another milestone for independence was when I got my driver’s license at 16 and my old beater car. I was thrilled to be going places on my own. It was fun to be able to go to a friend’s house without needing a ride. When I went to junior college at 17, I was overjoyed with the feeling of independence of the rules and restrictions of high school. College was not the wasted babysitting that I felt went on in high school. I was responsible for getting to classes, getting my homework done, and managing time for my job at McDonalds.

My mom had a friend who owned a franchise store and got me the interview. I had had jobs tutoring and babysitting before, but this was different. I was supposed to be 18 to work there so I photocopied my birth certificate, whited out the birth year, retyped the year making myself a year older, and photocopied it again. (Hey, it worked.) I think I felt more independent because of the juggling act I was doing, more than just having a job. My then fiancé often would meet me at my car when I worked late. It was a nice gesture except for the time he removed my distributor cap and took off. I was panicked. There were no cell phones back then. After I started crying, the idiot showed up and apologized for pranking me. (Oy vey)

I married at 18 and again felt independent of my mother’s house rules. I didn’t have to make my bed every morning. I could go to bed without having to clean up after anyone else. I rebelled against doing dishes for quite a while early in my marriage. I would wait until there were no clean ones left before washing them up. Looking back, I feel that my independence from being under anyone else’s rules, was the beginning of my becoming me.

After having my second child and buying my first house, I felt independent from other people telling me how I could and could not live whatever lifestyle I wanted. I started painting walls, murals, and redecorating as soon as I moved in. It was wonderful to not be a renter who had to abide by someone else’s dictates. I lived in that little 900 sq ft house for 12 years. It served me well.

The most remarkable sense of independence came when I finished my degree and teaching credential classes. I interviewed for jobs available in the only district I wanted to work in. Once I got my job, my then spouse stopped working. I knew I could tale care of myself and my children independently. I knew I no longer had to deal with what was going on at home. I knew my happiness was not unimportant. I knew I could survive. When the straw came that broke the camel’s back, I visited a lawyer. I struggled but my independence was so worth it.

16 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday #9 – Independence

  1. I cannot imagine growing up in a house where I was badgered by my sibling. I can imagine how relieved you must have been when he was not in the house any longer. You certainly had to grow up too fast in the midst of too many emotional roadblocks. Living with an addicted parental figure is a journey people cannot understand unless they have lived through it. You had a sense of determination that very few people your age had. Did you marry the fiancé that took your distributor cap?!? 🤬 Thanks for telling your story.

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  2. well lauren, your certainly very independent! Its a great thing!
    I am glad for you that things worked out and you were able to spread your wings and get away from your home life!

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