Imagine this: you had to roll out of bed earlier than you wanted to, an hour-long drive lies between your home and your job, and you have an eight hour day of work to look forward to when you get there. Then you have to drive an hour to get back home. Your back and neck are stiff, your eyelids feel heavy, and your driving leg is killing you. Do you feel stressed yet? Now imagine doing it Monday through Friday for over a decade. That’s what my dad, and many other men and women like him, has had to do for years. I never understood how difficult this was until this summer when I entered the “real world” and started working a little less than an hour away from home, pretty near to where my dad works. I have learned a lot about what my dad goes through by experiencing it for myself.
On days that we are both able to do it, my dad and I ride to work together, but there have been plenty of days when I had to commute on my own. Often, it is hard to keep my eyes open and there is no one talking to you to keep you awake. I have to drive to work without enough sleep and I have to drive back from work after a slow, uneventful day. I am usually tired, cranky, and unpleasant at the end of a workday. What amazes me is that my dad is able to do this five days a week and still be pleasant and fun when he gets home. Doing what he does has caused me to appreciate him more than I did previously. When we ride together, I get to learn a lot about him through the conversations we have. These conversations and the stories that he tells reinforce the qualities that are already apparent, such as strength and determination.
When I was a child I did not fully understand the difficulties that my parents face to provide for our family, and I did not appreciate their struggles. Now that I face some of those difficulties for myself, I am more easily able to relate to and comprehend what my mom and dad have to do to keep our family fed and clothed. An hour commute has changed my perspective on my father and what he does and goes through for me. It’s hard to appreciate your parents or guardians when you do not understand their struggle, but before you get upset with them for being stressed out or angry with you, remember what they go through to provide for you and try to imagine yourself in their place.