By Anissa Berasi
I’m sure I’m not unique in saying that I never realized how much my parents sacrificed for me until I was a parent myself. It’s not only the obvious things like the money and time and energy. It’s also the dreams they had for themselves and their lives before having kids. There is nothing that gives me greater satisfaction than being a mother, and I am confident in saying it will always be the absolute best aspect of my life. But there is so much more to me – to every mom and dad – that is shelved or sacrificed entirely in order to put someone else’s needs before our own. Anyone who knows me knows the impact my parents have had on me and now, my family.
My mom and dad have supported me and built me up so I had the courage to follow my heart. I’ve never questioned my worth as an individual. They have taught me the value of family. They had a way of empowering me to make decisions for myself while simultaneously guiding me in the best direction without an ounce of pressure – a skill I one day hope to perfect. Honestly, I took my parents and their love, their loyalty, and their commitment to me and my brothers for granted for a long time. I thought everyone’s parents did the same things for them as mine did for me. (I also thought everyone was Italian and Catholic for the majority of my adolescence, but that’s a story for a different day.)
One of my favorite examples of my parents’ unyielding encouragement happened when I left home for college (and needed it more than ever). I spent the first week of higher education experiencing the hell that is preseason soccer which consisted of six or more hours of practice, morning and evening runs, weight training, pool workouts, and other creative forms of torture. My report home every night was like a broken record:
“Just so you know, I’m going to quit, but I’ll wait until after the next team meeting/scrimmage/ etc.”
My parents’ only response was, “Okay. Do what you have to do.”
Even though it was left unspoken, I knew they might be disappointed if I quit. Disappointed not because they wanted to live vicariously through me, but because they knew I was talented enough to play on the team and that I loved the game of soccer. However, that wasn’t what kept me playing for another day. It was because I knew that no matter what I decided my next steps were, they would be there. They would be there and there would be no talk of regrets.
I never ended up quitting. I played in every single game during the four years I was in college. I was the ONLY person in my class by my junior year and by senior year I was the lone captain, leading my team to the school’s first women’s soccer national ranking and appearance in the NCAA tournament. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the phone calls I made to my parents during that hot, August week in 1998. Their response and how their actions during that time and so many times before and since have fueled my drive, conviction, and strength of mind.
And now, in 2015, I want my parents to know that I know what they did for me; both the sacrifices that can be seen and those that are intangible. The encouragement never tainted with expectations. I know and I am grateful. Even though we may not talk about it I often thank them in the silence of my heart. I thank them on the days when the sky is so blue and cloudless it could have been painted by a child’s hand. I thank them when the ho-hum of a spectacularly ordinary day makes it impossible for me to stop smiling. I thank them when I hear the innocence of my kids in their giggles and squeals. When I look around at this life and wonder: how I did I get so lucky?
I realize that it isn’t luck. It is them.
Born and raised in CT, Anissa resides in Glastonbury with her husband and three children under the age of six. Anissa graduated from Bryant University with an Undergraduate degree in Finance. While attending school there, she was a member of the Bulldog’s Women’s Soccer team. Anissa also holds an MBA from the University of Hartford and has spent her career in the financial services industry; most recently with a local investment management firm. Anissa relishes any free time she finds during which she enjoys honing her photography skills, vacationing in the Outer Banks, reading best seller children’s books, and volunteering with the Junior League of Hartford.