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An Involuntary Sacrifice

By Amy Shin

I’m the oldest of 11 children in my family. I felt so much pressure to financially support my household that there was no way I could return to the Philippines. If I did, who would help them? Who am I to quit my job and return to my family thinking that they would be pleased? The rest of my siblings were studying, so I always thought to myself, “okay, just two more years, just two more years.” Now, it’s been 20 years of me working here as a domestic helper.

My parents were jobless, and I felt obligated to continue working, however much I despised their lack of responsibility. I had given up all my dreams for the sake of my family. I was really smart when I was young, and people would always think of me to have the greatest potential in life. For example, I would be chosen to be the school representative when participating in competitions. I felt so much pride back then, which was when I didn’t have as much pressure. I sought to go to college and pursue my dreams.

During this time of my childhood, my grandfather was always so good to me (especially because I was the first granddaughter) and genuinely cared about me. But he would always get sick, so I constantly looked after him when I was around 10-11 years old. During this age, I wanted to be a nurse to help those who were sick, as well as studying abroad to continue my education. This was my dream, but that didn’t happen. There was no way that could happen. You see, if you are the eldest of all siblings and your life is filled with so much uncertainty, you’re bound to absorb so much pressure to be some form of support. My parents made me work at a Taiwanese clothing factory when I was just 12-years-old, and all my dreams were crushed.

So how do I feel about my parents? I feel ashamed, disappointed, and betrayed. They stole away my dreams and all the potential that I had when I was young. They depended on me and thought that it was my responsibility to help them. My feelings towards them have not changed ever since. We don’t talk much. But there is one thing that I learned from them, and that is that I should never be like the irresponsible mom that I had for the sake of my two children. I’ll try my very best so that they can get their degrees, pursue their dreams with no constraints, so that one day when I am old and eventually pass away, my children will not think of me like how I thought of my own. Instead, I want them to be proud of me and the sacrifices that I have made for them. That’s my only wish. I want the best for them and for the future that lies ahead.

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