Though I don’t necessarily love “holidays” like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (and Valentine’s Day for that matter — there’s just something about walking into a store with 50 billion other people to buy my mom/dad/spouse a “special” present that irks me), they often lull me into happy thoughts of my childhood, conjuring images of the much younger faces of my parents in the moments I remember most fondly. And as I remember these moments, my heart smiles and I thank my lucky stars for having them as the ones who raised me. 

So a few years ago, when a close relative scolded me for doing something she didn’t agree with, condescendingly asking, “Who raised you?!” I was a little extremely miffed. Not because I took offense, but because I am very proud of the way I was raised — and God forbid you infer that my parents were anything less than superstars.    

Nonetheless, that question, “Who raised you?” played in my head like a broken record. And I started thinking… who did raise me?

You see, I was a product of divorce. By 5 years old I had a cast of characters that included grandparents, step-parents, and biological parents, all lending a helping hand with the parenting. 

As the years passed, my mom and stepdad ended up doing the brunt of the “raising” — the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all. And even though I knew them to be the ones I would strive to be like as an adult, I also knew there was so much more to these people than just the assigned nouns of “mother” and “stepfather.”

Finally, after some deep contemplation, I came up with the answer.

And I knew exactly who raised me. 

The people who raised me were selfless, always putting family first. People who cared less about image and more about stability. People who worked hard but never had too little time for their children. People who took the delicate situation of blending a family and managed it with grace and love. People who made sacrifices to better our family.

I was raised by people who encouraged creativity, no matter what form it was in. People who were always my biggest cheerleaders, no matter the endeavor. People who believed in me and taught me I could do whatever I set my mind to. People who helped me develop the skills to believe in myself, even when things seemed impossible.

I was raised by people who believed in commitment, teaching me that once you commit to something, you follow it through, even if it’s not as fun as you thought it would be. People who valued a given word. People who did not make excuses for their shortcomings but recognized the issue and then tried again.

I was raised by kind-hearted people. People who taught me that speaking badly of others is not funny, it’s hurtful. People who appreciated differences in race, culture, and religion and exhibited an example of acceptance just by the way they lived their daily lives. People who felt strongly that no one is better than another. 

I was raised by people who taught me to be modest. People who could have flaunted their money, looks, and smarts, but didn’t. By the same token, I was raised by people who passed down the skill of using smarts, humor, and kindness to create genuine relationships. People who valued laughter and wit. 

I was raised by people who taught me the value of a dollar. People who budgeted, and saved, and spent frugally. People who didn’t care about materialism in a world that is obsessed with it. People who would rather wear fanny packs than designer purses.

I was raised by people who appreciated all that I was. People who allowed me to have my own opinions, and to share them. People who taught me to share an opinion in a respectful way, and to value others’ opinions. 

I was raised by people who I trusted and who would become my confidants in my adult life. People who, to this very day, will sit with me for hours while we share stories. People who inspire me. People who I admire. 

Yes, I know exactly who raised me. People I have been fortunate enough to call my parents. People who taught me that family doesn’t always mean having the same blood coursing through our veins. People who taught me that “Dad” means much more than a name on a birth certificate. People I am lucky to have in my life.  

In this season of Mother’s and Father’s Days, I thank my parents for their love, for their dedication, and for raising me in a way that makes me proud; a way in which I strive to raise my own children.

Jacquelyn Eckmann
Jacquelyn (Jakki) is a Texas native who made the Greater Boston area her home several years ago. Jakki is the founder of Social Betty, a social media management and consulting agency, and runs the company with her husband, Chris. She loves the flexibility that being self-employed gives her, and truly appreciates that she is able to attend mid-day school events for her children, Caleb (11), and Kennedy (6). A lover of the written word, music, and makeup, Jakki enjoys a good book, concerts at small venues, and discount shopping. Though life is busy for her family (overcommitting to extracurricular activities regularly), Jakki and her husband make it a point to get to the city and enjoy a ride on the T, a craft beer, and dinner at Legal Harborside or Boston Burger Co.- both with the kids and without.