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“They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.” Al Trautwig, a commentator for NBC said, and in doing so degraded Olympic gold medalist, Simone Biles’ parents. When I read the multitude of news articles regarding this topic, I was honestly offended.
Ever since I was three-months old, I was raised by my great-grandparents. One of the main things that Mr. Trautwig failed to realize is that your parents are the ones who raise you, teach you how to walk and talk, put food on the table, support you, put you through school, care for you, love you. and support your dreams. They’re not the people who gave you your DNA. Sure, a large amount of people are lucky enough to have parents that also are their biological parents, but another large sum of us aren’t so fortunate. But, we are very fortunate in a different way.
Simone Biles was adopted and raised by her grandparents. I understand that in a unique way, as I had a similar story. I understand it’s a different perspective, as all families are.
Growing up with my great-grandparents was difficult for a while. I was always asked, “Are those your real parents?” “Why is your mom so old?” I looked at my best friends and their moms and wished I could have that ‘best friend’ relationship that they had. But my mom was several generations older than me, and I didn’t understand why she was so much more strict than my friends’ moms. I wondered why she didn’t believe in study groups. I wondered why I had to dress up in fancy hats, gloves and tights just to go to church on Sundays, while most of the other kids wore jeans and a tee shirt. I had questions, sure, but I was too young to understand all of this.
By the time college rolled around things started to change. I looked back on all of the questions I had as a kid and realized that I was happy with the way I had been raised. I was appreciative and honored to have two people love me and teach me in such a unique and incredible way.
All of the wishes that I wished as a kid of having younger or “real” parents quickly disappeared, and were replaced with the wish that I would have more time with the two amazing people I came to know as mom and dad. Each time I would come home for breaks while in college, I finally saw them age. I finally realized that I don’t have as much time with my parents as most people do. Life is short, and unfortunately my time with my parents is even shorter.
What I wish that Al Trautwig, along with likely many other people, would realize is that the word parent isn’t defined by the person that carried you for nine-months, or the person that supplied you with your chromosomes. The word parent represents the person that put their life on hold to support someone else. The word parent describes a person that put someone else first, a person that changed all of your dirty diapers, that read you bedtime stories at night and held you when you had nightmares.
A parent is the person who supported all of your childish dreams and still continues to support your dreams as you grow. A parent is the person who pours out unconditional love when you decide to act like a complete idiot, the person who tells you everything is going to be alright when things don’t work out and the person who had been and will always be there no matter what.
Whether someone has been raised by a family member, a family friend or a caring stranger that felt that they needed that joy in their lives, they are parents.
All of us who were raised by someone other than our biological parents.