I’m a woman in my 30s working at an elementary school as a teacher. I almost got married last year but broke off my engagement. To be precise, my mother-in-law broke it off. After the breakup, it was really hard for me for a while. Not long ago, something happened that washed away the injustice done to me at once.
I’m sending the story about the reason for breaking my engagement, which was because of my parents’ occupation. My parents sell hot dogs and snacks in two small spots in the open produce markets. They each sell food items. To this day, my parents met working in the market, as if they were fated to meet. My mom was called the dessert girl, and my dad was called the hot dog boy. They became a couple, got married, and had me. They still work at their small stores and make the food with love and care to serve their customers.
When I was very young and didn’t know anything, I was so happy when Mom and Dad brought me food every day from their work. I still remember. But when I began school, I started to feel embarrassed about my parents’ occupation. I was fearful that my friends would see my parents in the market, so I purposely never went anywhere near there. Every year, when the school conducted the demographic survey, I would lie about my parents’ occupation, marking my mom as a housewife and my father as an office worker.
I’ve worried that one of my school friends might discover that my parents worked as food vendors in the marketplace. I was critical of them. “Why are you paying so much attention when a Watcher sells cheap food? Just make it any old way. People won’t know,” my mom retorted. “What do you mean they won’t know? People tasted it! No, people’s palettes are very accurate, and any food that people eat must be made with care. It’s just cheap food. Your mother’s menu is priced low when you just do the math, but it’s food the people who lack money can afford to buy, so I must pay more care. That’s why your father purposely buys only the best ingredients. Your mom and dad sell cheap food, but we want to make them with extra care.”
I couldn’t understand my mom and dad’s efforts they’re putting in from early dawn to late at night with all the extra labor and choosy selection of the ingredients to make food that costs less than a few dollars. No one would recognize their efforts. As I grew older, I started to change my opinion. After my parents maintained the same high standard and care of making food, it taught me that people should live honestly and sincerely, like my parents.
Eventually, I started to respect my parents’ occupation. For my parents, their job was everything. Anyone who evaluates them by their own value standards and looks down on them makes me angry. Even just thinking about it now, people often say, “Why won’t God take those nasty people?” After my broken engagement, whenever I became angry, I would pray that I don’t care which one, but for God to please just punish any of them. So did God hear about the injustice done to me?
Two months ago, an unexpected opportunity came to me. I was so happy to hear the news. Below me, I have a sister who’s nine years younger. She was born in my parents’ later years. I wasn’t jealous at all because she was very cute and lovable, perhaps due to a big age difference. However, she always complains about her looks. “Hey sis, why are my eyes so small when you have large eyes? Maybe because Mom and Dad had me too late, so they didn’t give me any good genes. Yet you’re so pretty.” Even my younger sister’s pouting was so lovable in my eyes. I always told her, “No Jenny, you’re much prettier.” I told her repeatedly, but she was so obsessed with looks and didn’t believe me.
As soon as her SAT exam was over, she went to a Plastic Surgery Clinic all by herself to get a consultation. “Hey sis, is school over? Could you come over to Future Plastic Surgery Clinic for me?” I received a call from my younger sister which startled me, so I rushed over to the clinic to find her face lying all over with a felt tip pen. “What’s happened to your face?” I didn’t know what was going on, so I asked. “Sis, I just received a consultation. It happens that they will give me a student discount. So, is it possible for you to pay the fees for me?” I asked a nurse, and she said that they accept credit cards and will discount the interest rates as well.
I was so dumbfounded. My sister was fully expecting me to pay for her plastic surgery and stood waiting. I took out a wet tissue from my bag and wiped her face off. Surprised, she held my hand to stop me from it. “Don’t they have to do the surgery like this? Your face needs no surgery.” “Didn’t I tell you? You’re pretty enough. So, erase it, and let’s go home.” “No, I want to get the surgery today.” My sister would be 19 years old in a few months, but she acted like nine years old and threw a tantrum right then.
The doctor who was in the exam room came out from the noise. My sister and I were making, “Doctor, could I get the surgery today?” my sister asked the doctor. I looked at him frowning. I was angry that if he hadn’t drawn on my sister’s face and put the idea of plastic surgery into her head, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point. The male doctor glanced at my sister and me alternately. He seemed to have caught on to what was going on and said to my sister, “We can’t do the surgery today. I need to get off work now.” He made up some excuses that the registration for the evening surgery was over.
My sister became very upset, but the situation at hand got resolved for now. “Hey, no matter how you want to become prettier, how dare you go straight to the plastic surgery clinic with no money? Aren’t you scared something may go wrong?” I scolded my sister all the way home, but she was mad at me and didn’t say a word, with her head turned toward the car window.
My parents, who came home from work, were worried about my sister, who was pouting without saying anything. Thinking she was upset over not doing well in her SAT exams, that night I thought about my sister. Since I didn’t think she would listen to me even if I forbade her from going, my worries became a reality. After my class, I was getting ready to go home when a text message from an unknown number was on my mobile phone. When I read the message, my sister had gone to that clinic again. It requested if I could pay the surgery bills and installments. When I called the number, the phone number belonged to that male doctor I had met.
He and I exchanged phone calls on my sister’s matters. “I have a favor to ask you. What is it?” “
If my sister goes there again, could you tell her nicely that she doesn’t need any surgery and she just needs to take good care of herself, which would make her a lot prettier than now?” I asked quite seriously, but what he said surprised me. “I could tell her, but would your sister believe it? Why would a plastic surgeon tell her that she could become prettier without any surgery? Of course, she needs the surgery to become prettier. It’s like telling Jenny that she doesn’t have to study to get good grades.” When I listened to him, that made sense.
I suddenly felt embarrassed that I asked for such a ridiculous favor to a plastic surgeon. After the incident, we exchanged several more calls, and my close teachers at my work started to tease me about my encounters with a doctor and wished me luck, hinting at a romantic relationship. Because the school is a small place, soon rumors spread quickly that I was dating a plastic surgeon. No matter how much I denied it, people around me did not believe me. Even the students I taught asked me, “Teacher, are you dating?” which made the rumors spread out of control.
As the situation got worse, I just gave up, hoping the rumors would fizzle away. When the rumors gradually faded, the doctor actually asked me to date him formally. At first, I was confused, but he turned out to be very gentle. After I became a teacher, I often went out on blind dates arranged by my friends, but to be honest, there was no comparison.
Thus, like the rumors, he and I became a couple and dated without any problems. We mutually respected each other and spent time together for a year. I guess dating changes people, and my younger sister was quick to notice. Eventually, my whole family found out about my dating. My sister welcomed it the most because I was dating the doctor from the clinic she had visited.
“Then if you marry that doctor, does that mean I could get the plastic surgery for free?” “What do you mean by free? David is only a contracted doctor. Don’t even dream about it.” “Bull! I thought he was the director. Was he only a contracted doctor?” “What about it? It’s enough if he’s good at what he does.” I ended up defending my boyfriend from my immature sister, and my parents were happy that I was dating a doctor since it was about time I should get married.
“What’s wrong with being a contracted doctor? It’s more important what kind of person he is. He must have studied very hard to become a doctor. Didn’t our daughter suffer studying to become a teacher? She is just as good as anybody. She’s pretty, and these days, teachers make the best wives.”
My parents complimented both my boyfriend and me for our hard work, and watching them made me feel proud. Just taking a look at our jobs, I thought that the combination was good enough. It seemed my boyfriend thought the same way. I heard that my boyfriend’s family thought my profession was not bad. When he told them that I was an elementary school teacher, I didn’t know then that saying it wasn’t bad meant it wasn’t good. It literally meant that my occupation was not bad.
We dated for two years, like any other couple. Because we were at the prime age for marriage, we discussed it, and our parents were impatient and told me to invite my boyfriend home for a dinner together. My boyfriend said okay. Soon, our parents met him, and when he came to our house for the first time, he kept looking around. My mother and I felt as if we were being graded and felt nervous. In fact, our house was an old single-story residence. When we first moved, the house was already over 20 years old, and by the time of the meeting, the house was over 40 years old.
Inside the house, it wasn’t very different. At a glance, you could tell it was very old and worn. I didn’t notice it up to that time, but when I brought my boyfriend home, every minor detail looked bothersome. However, my boyfriend did not say anything about our house. Instead, he was all smiles, saying my mother’s food was delicious. I have been worried that my boyfriend might be disappointed after looking at our house, but I felt relieved after seeing his reaction.
After that day, my family presumed that I was already settling down. Not long after, I also went to my boyfriend’s house to meet his mom. That day, I paid special attention to my dress and makeup and even got a bouquet. My boyfriend’s mother, who was a widow, was going to meet me for the first time. My boyfriend brought up an unexpected subject in front of his house.
“Honey, I’m sorry, but I lied to my mom about your parents’ occupation.” My boyfriend told his mom that my parents were operating a franchise cafe. When I heard that, I was surprised and upset. I was in no position to be judgmental, but I had also heard that my boyfriend’s family wasn’t in a great financial situation. I had never imagined that I would feel hurt over such a materialistic condition. I felt so offended that I told him that I would just go home. But a voice interrupted me.
“Oh my, are you Dr. Anderson? My son, are you already here? Welcome! I’m David’s mother. It’s so nice to meet you.” His mother was carrying a cake she bought and was walking toward us. I was bewildered, but his mother didn’t realize anything and asked me to go inside. I had no choice but to enter his house. The condominium he lived in was a little larger than about 700 square feet and looked much more worn than our house.
His mother, who met me for the first time, told me that she sent my boyfriend to medical school with great difficulty. She got a divorce when her son was in high school. She said it proudly. It wasn’t something I would mind if my boyfriend didn’t lie about my parents. I did not understand why my boyfriend had to lie and I felt hurt and upset that I had to pretend to be in a great financial condition. I couldn’t even listen properly to what his mother was saying.
My boyfriend told me later that he was ashamed because he felt inferior to me and thought I would leave him if I knew his real situation. He said that’s why he lied to his mother about my parents. After a few days, he proposed to me, and I accepted.
Our parents were all happy with our decision. My boyfriend said he would try to persuade his mother. He said that she had a positive impression of me and that it would be easier to persuade her. I was waiting for him to tell me the good news, but instead, he looked more serious than ever.
He told me that his mother was still against our relationship and that she insisted he break up with me. She believed that my family’s background was not suitable for him and that we would bring him down. I was hurt and confused. I asked him if he believed what his mother was saying. He hesitated and said that he didn’t want to lose his mother’s support and that he was torn between me and his family.
I couldn’t bear the idea that he was doubting our relationship because of his mother’s opinion. I told him that I couldn’t be in a relationship where I wasn’t a priority, where he couldn’t stand up for me and our love. I broke up with him that day, feeling that I deserved someone who would choose me wholeheartedly.
The breakup was painful for both of us. I saw how his eyes were filled with tears, and he tried to change my mind, but I had made up my decision. I couldn’t let myself be in a relationship where I felt like I had to constantly prove myself to his family. I deserved someone who would stand by my side without doubts.
In the following weeks, I focused on healing and moving on. It wasn’t easy, but I surrounded myself with supportive friends and family. I threw myself into my work and hobbies, trying to rediscover my own identity. And gradually, the pain started to subside.
Several months later, I received a call from my ex-boyfriend. He apologized for how he had handled things and admitted that he had made a mistake. He realized that he had let his mother’s opinions dictate his decisions and that he should have stood up for our relationship. He asked for a second chance.
I appreciated his honesty and growth, but I knew that even though he had changed, the past still lingered. I had moved forward and was in a better place emotionally. I told him that while I forgave him, I couldn’t go back to the relationship. We both needed to move on separately.
Time passed, and I found myself in a new relationship with someone who truly appreciated me and supported me. Our families got along well, and there was a sense of mutual respect. Looking back, I realized that my experience with my ex-boyfriend had taught me valuable lessons about self-worth, standing up for what I believe in, and not compromising on my happiness.
Life moved on, and I focused on my career and personal growth. I continued to learn from my parents’ example, who showed me the importance of hard work, integrity, and embracing who you are without worrying about others’ judgments. And as I walked my own path, I carried those lessons with me, ready to face whatever challenges and joys life would bring.
Years passed, and I found myself thriving in my career as an elementary school teacher. I cherished my students and their eager minds, knowing that I was making a positive impact on their lives. My parents’ dedication to their business also continued to inspire me to work hard and pursue my passions with unwavering determination.
One day, while attending a professional development conference, I crossed paths with a familiar face. It was my ex-boyfriend. He looked different, more mature, and self-assured. We exchanged pleasantries, catching up briefly on our lives. He shared that he had pursued a successful career in medicine and had repaired his relationship with his mother.
He expressed his genuine regret over how things had turned out between us and told me that he had learned from his mistakes. He thanked me for being strong and standing up for myself back then. I appreciated his honesty and growth, acknowledging that we had both come a long way since our past relationship.
As we spoke, I felt a sense of closure. It was evident that we had both moved on and found our own paths to happiness. I realized that our encounter wasn’t just a chance meeting; it was a reminder of how far I had come and how much I had grown as an individual.
In the years that followed, I continued to focus on my career and personal development. I embraced new opportunities and challenges, always keeping my parents’ resilience and dedication in mind. I also found love again, this time with someone who shared my values and supported me wholeheartedly.
Through it all, I held onto the lessons I had learned from my parents and my own experiences. I learned to value myself, to stand up for what I believe in, and to never compromise my happiness for someone else’s expectations. I carried these lessons into every aspect of my life, from my career to my relationships, and they served as a guiding light, helping me navigate through both triumphs and challenges.
Looking back, I was grateful for the journey that had led me to where I was. My parents’ unwavering love and support, combined with the lessons I had learned from my past relationship, had shaped me into a stronger, more resilient person. And as I continued to embrace each day with gratitude and determination, I knew that I was living a life that I could be proud of.
In the years that followed, I found myself continually growing and evolving. My career as a dedicated elementary school teacher brought me immense joy and a sense of purpose. Watching my students learn and flourish reminded me of the importance of nurturing young minds and fostering a positive learning environment.
My parents’ business thrived as well, thanks to their unyielding commitment to quality and their customers’ loyalty. They expanded their small spots into a cozy, well-loved restaurant, offering not only delicious food but also a warm and inviting atmosphere. Their success was a testament to their hard work, resilience, and the valuable life lessons they had instilled in me.
Amid my busy schedule, I made sure to maintain a healthy work-life balance, nurturing my relationships and pursuing personal interests. I found joy in simple moments, whether it was spending time with loved ones, enjoying a good book, or exploring new hobbies. The wisdom I had gained from my past experiences helped me appreciate life’s beauty and navigate its complexities.
I also continued to foster meaningful relationships, building a strong network of friends and colleagues who supported and uplifted one another. These connections reminded me of the power of community and the importance of surrounding oneself with people who share similar values and aspirations.
As time went on, I began to embrace new challenges and opportunities in my career. I took on leadership roles within the school, advocating for innovative teaching methods and creating an environment that encouraged creativity and growth. Through my work, I aimed to inspire not only my students but also my fellow educators to believe in the potential of every child.
In my personal life, I found love once again. This time, it was with someone who appreciated me for who I was, supported my passions, and shared my vision for a meaningful life. We embarked on a journey together, nurturing a relationship built on mutual respect, trust, and shared values.
Reflecting on my journey, I was grateful for every experience that had shaped me. The challenges I had faced, from the broken engagement to the growth that followed, had all contributed to my strength and resilience. My parents’ unwavering love and my own determination had led me to a place of contentment and fulfillment.
As the years passed, I continued to carry forward the lessons I had learned. I celebrated my parents’ legacy by upholding their values and work ethic, and I honored my own worth by never settling for less than I deserved. I remained open to new adventures, always seeking ways to learn, grow, and make a positive impact on the lives of those around me.
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