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I still remember that sad summer day when my storybook life came crashing down. I was washing the mound of dishes that stacked up daily in our kitchen. I didn't mind the dishes because half the time was spent splashing in the water making giant soapy bubbles that were fun to pop. My clothes usually got drenched, but that was okay.
My mom drove in the driveway unusually early that day. I noticed she looked sad and didn't ask me any questions like how my day was and so on. What she did say was that we needed to have a family meeting. We always dreaded the long boring meetings talking about chores and manners and such, but I was dreading this one much more. I was scared. It sounded very serious. Plus, I noticed how mom and dad had been verbally fighting so much lately. Our life wasn't perfect, but my parents usually got along.
We met in our cluttered living room to talk. The extremely painful, scary, and final words of divorce came from my mother's trembling mouth and I could see by the look of shock in each of our eyes that it wasn't going to be easy for any of us. We were numb.
Our house was always a disaster. It had four bedrooms and two huge bathrooms. It was a never-ending chore. No matter how much we cleaned, it didn’t seem to matter. We had blue carpet with little white speckled spots called paper that we were too lazy to pick up. We would put our school bags in the corner of the room near the doorway where they would often end up dumped all over the place. There were also old crinkled up homework papers with winter coats and shoes, at least three pairs of shoes for each kid.
My parents were divorced when I was twelve. I never thought it would happen to us. We actually were perfect. In my youthful mind anyway I was mature enough to ponder many ideas. Such as how hard was it going to be without dad? How hard was it going to be for mom trying to raise 4 kids alone in such a fast paced world? How would Christmas work? Whose house we would go to? Or even more important, who would we live with? How would my mom be able to work, cook, help with homework, get us to our activities and deal with her loss? It was extremely hard going to school every single day knowing when I got home life would be the same cruel reality. No matter how much I prayed my life was never going back the way it was.
Although the divorce was hard for each and every one of us, my younger sister, Micaiah, took it the worst. I can remember her crying many times during the night and day, but she eventually she understood and tried to show the family she was brave.
I was the eldest with three younger siblings. Sam was 10, Micaiah was 4, and Matthew who was hardly 1 months old. Sam and I were closest to age. We both could understand what was going on but didn’t know it would be so tough. Sam and I always got a long fairly well. We were always playing card games such as Old Maid and Match. We would also keep car collections and show off who had the better ones. We naturally we turned towards each other for company.
My brother Matthew at the time wasn’t even years old yet, so he did not know what was going on and probably can’t even recall for himself what happened to this day. In the years, he eventually caught on with the story and he now understands what divorce is and why it happens.
Mom tried her best, but sometimes, actually a lot of the time, she was unable to take care of the four of us. She had so many things on her mind at once. Because I was oldest of her kids, I stepped up to the plate and helped with the little ones. We all missed dad and the way it had been but we were making the best of a bad situation. I remember comforting my infant brother back to sleep in the middle of the night even though that was Mom's job. She was often far too fatigued to even hear him crying in the night. I couldn’t blame her though. Its not that she didn't care about us, its just that the divorce was probably much more devastating to her. Sharing your life and raising children with someone you loved then have it turn for the worst can’t be easy to handle. She could function normally at work, but not so much at home. My mom was always a strong woman who, in my mind, could do anything. I was proven wrong in this instance. She would cry a lot and she seemed so weak and ready to give up. That was hard on me because I needed her to be strong for me and be there for me. My life was scrambled too. I was growing into a young woman and needed a parent, especially a mother, to teach me what I needed to know about growing up.
Today, I can say, “We survived!”
When I look back on that part of my life I am saddened but also appreciative. I am a much stronger person because of the hardships that we had to overcome as a family, as well as my own hardships of turning into a young woman. I have a compassionate side of me for people that I may not have had if I hadn't gone through such difficulties of my own. If I hear about someone else’s difficulties with family life, I feel for them because I know a great deal of what they are going through.
I feel I have learned many lessons along this bumpy road. Some lessons maybe others haven’t learned yet, and some that many never will learn. I am more considerate to others and I don’t have a lot of trust towards people I first meet, which I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad but I know it has helped me in some situations as I grew up.
My mother is happily married a good man I am proud to call my step dad. He loves her unconditionally and shows it every day. My siblings are very happy. We all made it and are actually in a better situation than ever before. I still love my dad and always will, but he is the one who caused our heartbreak by his wrong actions. He is the one who lost not us.
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