What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood, or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.
It’s five o’clock on a Sunday morning. Do you know where your father is? If you’re me, then you know exactly where he is: in the kitchen preparing the dough for his homemade bread. My dad spends every Sunday morning this way. It’s a process that takes all day, a process I don’t entirely understand, but I know that by 3 o’clock in the afternoon, my dad will have three fresh loaves of bread from the oven.
At least one of those loaves finds its way to the home of someone in the community, be it someone in need or just someone who my dad thinks deserves a smile. Service has always been a huge part of my family. Before I was old enough to do service projects on my own, my mom helped start a new organization: “Mommy and Me Missions”. The goal of Mommy and Me was to expose children to serving in the community alongside their parents. With Mommy and Me, I participated in projects like organizing cans at the food pantry or sorting clothing to be donated to the homeless. By the time I was in middle school, my father started his own organization: Off the Egg. My dad loves cooking, but baking bread is not where he stops. My father and his friends take their Big Green Egg grills out into the community, serving food at fundraisers or my favorite, cooking holiday meals in the park. On every major holiday, my dad, his friends, their grills, and all their family are outside in the park right across the road from the homeless shelter. My dad spends days preparing his food. This isn’t just regular hot dogs. My dad makes the food just like he would for our family holiday meal, no shortcuts, no cheap products. By seeing the effort and money my dad puts into these meals, and getting to stand beside him and serve the meals myself, my dad taught me that if you’re going to do something, especially something in God’s name, you better do it right.
The bread my dad makes takes a long time, and there’s many complicated steps along the way. There’s plenty of opportunities for error, but my dad pays careful attention to make sure each one gets done the right way. That’s how my parents are with parenting, too. When I was in middle school, my parents decided that they weren’t happy with middle schools in the area for me to attend. Even though it would’ve been easier for my parents to send me to the nearby public school, my mother home-schooled me for seventh and eighth grade. Because of this, my mother claims I have “the brain of a 40-year-old woman.” Middle school is one of the most developmental periods of a young girl’s life, and when they’re in traditional school, they spend most of their time surrounded by other girls their age. I spent most of my time around my mom and the kindergarten teacher who’s class I helped out in the mornings. Although I now attend a private school and now spend my time around people my age, I haven’t lost what I learned from the people who’d already been through their teenage years and were giving me advice from the other side.
My dad’s bread has a hard crust. It can be tough to bite through sometimes, but once you get to the inside, you find the softest, fluffiest center. My parents have been just like this my whole life. My friends often think my parents are too strict, too controlling, or too hard on me, but they’ve never seen the inside. I would be a different person if it wasn’t for the things my parents taught me through service and through the extra care it takes to make sure all the details of parenting are right.