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My Mom

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Of all the people in the history of the world, I would choose my mom as my hero. As tacky and outdone as that sounds, it is completely and totally true. I have watched my mom from the time I was a little girl and I have yet to see anyone as strong or as brave or as human as she is.

Growing up was both easy and hard for me. Tragedy struck my family early on when my little brother, Quinn, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I was only three years old. The next year, I witnessed something that I will never forget as long as I live: my father, the man I idolized, brutally assaulted my mother in our kitchen. Instinctively, I held my other brother, Anthony, back from witnessing this bomb that shattered my innocent little world forever. After this, my father soon went to jail and I grew up. My mom suffered horribly from these two blows to our family. She became depressed and withdrawn, something I have never blamed her for. But with my mom dealing with her grief, it was left to me to take care of my brother. By the time I was seven, I knew how to cook a complete meal. By the time I was nine, I had mastered the trick of distracting my brother from everything that was wrong. I invented alternate personalities of kids who loved all the stuff we hated to make our lives bearable. I would play these long and drawn out games with my brother about kids who went on these awesome adventures. I was, in a lot of ways, more of a mother to him than a sister. Over the years, this took its toll on me. Because I felt it was my responsibility to take care of my small family, I repressed all of my own pain and anger and a lot of memories that made me depressed. I refused to deal with these emotions because I knew that they would hinder me in the quest to seeing that my family was okay.

At school, I was completely ostracized by my fellow peers. By the time I was twelve, I had not one friend I could rely on. I withdrew into myself, staying focused on taking care of my family, making sure that we all got fed and clothed was my job. But not having friends for years took its toll on me too. I had completely missed out on my childhood. I did not engage in the activities that the others would. I did not take the same joy from doing childish things. I did just as much as was necessary to make myself seem normal. I refused to talk to anyone about what was going on. Of course, it was only a matter of time before someone noticed this withdrawn, loner of a girl walking around during recess and not taking part in the other kids’ play. So I was sent to guidance counselors and therapists and I learned from my mistakes. I would now partake in silly games and gossip so as to seem the most normal child ever. But in my heart there was a never-ending war raging. I kept my emotions at bay with an iron will and tried to hold it together as best I could. But I was slipping. I would cry myself to sleep almost every night and I took to skipping school so I could get more of a handle on myself. When I was thirteen, I finally found someone who brought me out of myself. Someone who could make me laugh and made me feel alive. Someone who taught me the values of staying true to yourself no matter what life throws at you.

But then another thing happened to my small, broken family. My mom was struggling really badly and she reached out to my grandmother. My mom wanted to uproot me and my brother and move us to Pennsylvania, the place she was born and raised. I was a Cali girl, born and raised, and the thought of snow and cold weather and lack of sunshine repulsed me. But I forced all of my feelings back down and wrote a letter to the grandmother I did not know describing the many ways that moving to PA would benefit my family. And so we left California.

The next few years were good ones for my family. My mom was starting to be herself again. She was happy for the first time I could remember and she was doing well. My brother was young enough to adapt quickly to this new environment. I hated PA with a passion, but I resigned myself to making sure that I seemed like I was adapting well. Armed with my personality, I made friends quickly. I was bitter that I had left the only person I ever really cared about outside of my family, but my new friends actually lightened the burden on my heart by accepting me for who I was. After I acclimated myself completely to Coatesville, my mom announced that we were moving yet again to Upper Darby. This was my eighth move in eight years, and I was none too happy about this. But again, with an iron will I forced my bitterness down and resigned myself to making sure my mom did not see what was wrong with me.

The complete truth was that I was completely decimated. The years of repressing all of my negative emotions and memories were weighing heavily one me and it was killing me to seem completely normal all the time. I was constantly afraid that if my mother really found out that I was in pain beyond belief that she might again spiral into depression and be unable to take care of my brother. It was my one fear. In my brother rested all my cares about life and he was the one person I really loved. So because I believed it was my job to look out for him, I made sure that my mom could take care of him completely and never have to worry about me.

This strategy worked until I turned sixteen years old. I’d now met people who did dangerous things and in a twisted way, that appealed to me. These were kids completely different from the catholic school kids that I grew up with. They smoke, and drank and did things that I had never considered doing. So I ended up almost dropping out of school and moving out of my house. I lost myself in this life where all anyone cared about was living in the moment. But my inner self was completely horrified by what I was doing. I was losing me, and that was the one thing that I promised myself I would never do.

So I moved back home, thinking that this would take care of everything. But then there were these awful fights where my mom and I would argue over some trivial thing and it would blow up out of control. It took me months to see what was causing these terrible clashes: all of my repressed emotions were making themselves known in the worst way. I would unknowingly put the force of those emotions into my fights with my mom, turning them into earth-shattering events. I would go into these weird moods randomly and rapidly be pulled out of them. It felt like I was being dragged through every bad thought, emotion, and memory I had ever had in the past thirteen years. It was completely dreadful and I know that I never want to live through it again, but it also showed me things that I hope I will never forget.

My mom stayed by my side through all of this badness. Yes, at one time in my life she struggled, but she is just as human as I am. She found her way in the end. She became this wonderful mother who understands more because she’s gone through more. She has taught me what it means to really grow up and to really love. And despite my inner turmoil, my mom has always been someone I could talk to. She is not only my mother, but my best friend. I know that that is tacky in a teenage girl, but I know that I can go to her with anything and she will always offer advice, but generally allow me to steer my own course in life.

Now I am seventeen. I have gone through so much and come out a better person, and this is all because of my mom, Margaret D. She is more brave than anyone I have ever known. Somehow, she found the courage to face life despite the tragedies that life held for her. She faced terrible adversity and came out on the other side, scarred, but the stronger because of it. I will always have someone on my side, someone to always support me, someone who will always listen. Because of her, I know that no matter what I face in life, I can handle it because my mom taught me what true strength, bravery, and love is.





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