They saying "hindsight is 20/20" applies perfectly to childhood. When looking back on your younger years, you realize that your parents probably didn't have it all together like they wanted you to think. You may even find out a few family secrets (hopefully nothing too scarring). Turns out, parents are making it up as they go along, just like the rest of us. Who knew?! Read on to find out what these Redditors found out about their parents after they grew up.
Content has been edited for clarity.
“This is about to sound fake, but here it goes: about a year ago, during my sophomore year of college, I got the craziest phone call from my oldest sister. She revealed to me that while my two younger brothers were clearing up the bedroom that my parents used to sleep in (they are now separated) so that one of my brothers could take over the room, my youngest brother found a diary. It belonged to my mom.
Being a nosy creep, he decided to read the diary and found out that we have another sister (older than my youngest brother, but younger than my other brother). It turns out, about 17 years ago, my mother gave birth to a girl without knowing she was actually pregnant. The rest of my siblings and I were sent to another country (because having someone babysit four children is expensive) to stay with family. The baby girl was delivered in a car. In a panic, because they were extremely strapped for cash with my dad being in between jobs, they decided to leave her on a bench in front of a local hospital. My dad immediately called the hospital to let them know that she was out there. The nurses took her in and she was healthy.
We have still yet to find her because we can’t exactly afford a PI to go find her, but one day, when I’m in a better position with my life, I will.”
The Essay That Put Her Own Life Into Perspective
“My mom drinks a bit, and as her children have moved out and on, the quantity she’ll drink each night with/after dinner has increased quite a bit. Anyway, recently she told me that she can’t drive at night anymore due to cataracts. I kind of went ‘alright that makes sense’ because her 90 year old father has cataracts as well.
Yesterday, I read a nonfiction piece called ‘Why Aren’t You Laughing?’ by David Sedaris about the author’s mother and her relationship with drinking. In it, his mother uses the exact same excuse, and he states that he and his sisters knew that the real reason was she was too obliterated by sundown to drive.
That was a really big ‘Oh’ moment for me. I had to put the book down for a few minutes after I read that section.
It’s weird, she and I are very close. But one kind of unspoken conversation taboo is how much she drinks. Like, I’ve known about this issue before I read that essay, and I’ve taken note especially recently–every time I visit it seems worse. I live super far away so I don’t see her much (only about once a year), but my younger sister visits really often, and she doesn’t hold back nearly as much as I do. She calls my mom out on her drinking constantly, and it usually just ends in a screaming match between the two, from the few instances I’ve witnessed first hand.
I went home for my annual visit over Christmas and at one point I tried a less hostile approach–my mom was on the hunt for some drinks and I suggested we go to dinner without it since we couldn’t find a place. Didn’t go super well. On the plus side, she asked me to mail her the book with the essay I mentioned in it, and I’m hoping that when she reads that piece maybe, hopefully, it’ll be a wake up call. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep trying to get through as best I can, figuring out how is just taking a while.”
Had No Idea Mom Was A Hero
“My mom was a nurse in the neonatal unit (premature babies). There’d be days she’d come home and it was obvious she’d been crying. At the time, I’d give her a hug and tell her to feel better then go play outside or back to my video games not thinking much of it. I was ten.
It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that it dawned on me, that often the reason she had been crying was because a baby had died on her shift. I can’t even imagine having to deal with that on a semi regular basis. She later told me she was often responsible for supporting the parents and one of her talents was making clay moulds of the deceased babies hands as a keepsake for the parents. Thinking about doing that and having to make the moulds, made me realize that my mom was the most incredibly strong and compassionate person I’d ever known.
Immense respect to anyone in the first responders, medical or social work fields. You guys are heroes everyday and society all owes you a debt that can never be repaid.”
Where Was All This Money Growing Up?
“My father was a multimillionaire, but constantly claimed we were not well off.
It wasn’t until I went to college I started to sense that we weren’t ‘average.’ The first hint was when I went to orientation weekend at the college and at the initial welcome they were talking about financial aid. I had no idea what that was. Then, when it came time for me to speak with someone with financial aid, they asked all kinds of questions I couldn’t answer (like what our household income was). When she asked me how I planned to pay for college, I told her I didn’t know, that my father was paying. She asked about loans and I said I don’t know if he took one out this year or not, but that I had a signed, blank check in my bag to pay my tuition with.
When I got home and gave my dad the invoice for my tuition, I told him the financial aid department wanted a copy of his tax return to help me see if I qualified for assistance. He told me his tax return wasn’t anyone’s business.
A few months later, I was working for him and came across the bank’s yearly assessment of his finances where they determined his net worth to be over 10 million dollars.”
“My parents together made good money, but spent hardly any on the kids, or our house. We lived in a pretty old, not very nice house, and it was kind of embarrassing for me. Both parents drove maybe 2 or 3 year old cars, that I found out they just paid cash for after trading in their cars when they’d get to be like 5 years old. For them to buy us kids anything, literally anything, they would make us beg and ‘prove’ that we wanted it. We lived in a rural area, so a bicycle to get around was almost needed for my friends and I. Unfortunately, I didn’t get one until I was like 13, and it was a very cheap one that didn’t last more than a few months until a wheel bearing went out.
Meanwhile, the parents would go to Jamaica for two weeks every spring, down a pack of smokes a day, go out to eat without us, and other stuff, while my sister and I had to stay home and do chores. Seriously sounds like a Cinderella sort of story now.
I found out recently that the old man was making 80-90 grand a year when I was a kid, and my mom was making another 60-ish. I remember how bad they made me feel when I got a bicycle. I genuinely thought the family wasn’t going to be able to eat for a week because of it. Even in high school, I didn’t fully grasp the picture. I turned down a class trip to Costa Rica, because I didn’t think we could afford it, even though my mom and sister previously went to Europe for a month with a bunch of people. But once again, I thought it was different circumstances.
After going to college, living on my own, I started to understand things much more clearer, like cost of the vehicles, their vacations, eating out, the $20 a day smoke budget for them, etc. It hit me that they just didn’t want to spend anything on us, or me in particular. I wasn’t even a bad child, I’d do whatever they asked if me, never got in trouble, ‘A’ student, etc.”
“Take Some Time To Thank Your Parents”
“I never realized how poor we were and how well they handled it. We weren’t extremely poor to the point where we were homeless, but as I got older and started to penny pinch, I realized how much my parents had to. We regularly had grilled cheese or eggs for dinner, which I now realize is because they’re relatively inexpensive. Our vegetables were always grown in our tiny garden. Our grandmother was our only babysitter. My father worked triple overtime and my mother worked double. My mother would ‘splurge’ on a box of Franzia that would last a month. My father would always wear the same clothes for years.
We always had great holidays and they never skimped out on spending money on us if we needed it. It really does make me appreciate them.
A lot of people have asked me how two people who work so much are still poor, and I understand. Medical or debt issues aside, you have to realize that being poor is a never-ending system that is much harder than to just ‘work through it.’ If you work a minimum wage job and have to work so many hours to support your family, you do not have the time to job hunt, or money to buy clothes for interviews, or take time off to go to any sort of schooling. Many people are one large expense away from a financial hardship themselves. Two people can work a combined 140 hours a week, but after taxes, living expenses, insurance, transportation, and taking care of children, not much makes it through to savings. Take the time out of your day to thank your parents. You never know when you won’t have the ability to anymore.”
An Unlikely Hangout Spot
“My parents are 5 years apart in age, my mother being older. While I was growing up as the middle of 5 kids, I always saw my dad as the fun loving, kind of immature one, while my mom was a bit uptight.
It wasn’t until last year, when I was 20 years old, that I found out that every single one of their friends was associated with a local adult entertainment club.
Long story short, when my parents first got together, my dad jokingly asked to take my mom to a club, knowing she would say no. By his surprise, she agreed and off they went. Years later and they are weekly regulars.
My parents made good friends with many dancers, bartenders, and even the freaking Pepsi delivery guy of the place. They came around all of the time, knew my siblings and I well, and really became family.
They even became good buddies with the owner, who also owned a campground that he let us stay at for free all of the time. So, I’m sure they scored some cheap drinks knowing the bartenders and owner.
Seeing how all the different people aged and went down separate paths while all still keeping in touch was crazy. Some turned out great and some horrible.
It’s weird to grow up and realize your parents were young and fun once, too.”