Growing up in an Eastern European family, I had a number of family members involved in my upbringing. Along with mum and dad, my maternal grandmother and an unmarried uncle were also actively involved in raising my sister and I. Whenever we were asked to draw pictures of our families at school, mine would consistently show the four adults alongside my sister and I.
We were a traditional Slavic family, complete with my grandmother wearing a black apron on a daily basis and my uncle’s choice of shoes being sandals with socks, regardless of the weather! We also had grapes growing at the front of the house and homemade noodles being regularly made in the lounge room.
It may sound a little eccentric and different but a nice childhood. And it was. However, being first-generation Australian children of immigrants has had its challenges too.
Both my sister and I had to endure the mispronunciation of our names numerous times throughout our school lives. It was just easier to anglicise our names whenever we could.
Our clothes were often mismatched, and Saturday mornings were taken up by attending classes to improve our skills in reading, writing and speaking our native language. We listened to European music in the car and spoke the language both at home and when we went out.
Of course, now as adults we can most certainly appreciate our unique heritage, and the fact that we are bilingual is seen as an asset by most people we know. We love that we grew up and continue to be a part of a loving, warm Christian household that demonstrates God’s love to others.
Whenever I am reminded of the challenges we faced growing up with an unconventional set-up, I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. I take reassurance that the Lord had planned for and prepared me to be a part of such a wonderful, eclectic family and for this I am truly grateful.
Avid listener of 96three FM and a special ed. teacher who loves to travel.
Anna also plays the violin and piano at the Church she is part of.