I arrived home one afternoon and noticed Mom looked really exhausted. She was trying to get ready for her first day of college and I could hear her fighting with my father on the phone.
“Edward, you never do anything for her. You see your daughter once a year. You didn’t even call her on her birthday! The least you could do is pay some of what you’re supposed to for child support. But you can’t even do that.” My dad must have been getting angry because when I walked over, she put the phone down.
“Momma, are you okay?” I asked.
“Don’t worry, I’m just frustrated with your father. Go change out of your school clothes and come down, the chicken will be ready soon.” Even though she was dealing with many things, she always made time to cook for us.
I realized at a young age that my mother had sacrificed a lot. She was a professional nail artist before she went to college to become a nurse anesthetist. Her medical background has often come in handy. Once, she was at Starbucks when a young man fell, hitting his head against the table. He appeared to be having a seizure and she was doing all she could to make sure he was safe when someone said, “I’m a doctor. Put something in his mouth so he doesn’t choke.” My mother immediately told the woman she was crazy - you are not supposed to do that because if the person broke whatever was in his mouth it could choke him. When the ambulance showed up, the original doctor came back to apologize to my mother, “You were right, that was incorrect information.”
If you listened to what my mom has been through, you’d be amazed how far she has come. She married young and had an abusive marriage but luckily got out and was able to start a new life with me. Then she met Allen, who is now my father. I choose not to use the word “stepfather” because he is more of a father than my “sperm donor father” could ever be. Allen showed my mother how to love and trust again, gave her stability, and was unbelievably eager to raise me as his own child. They got married 11 years after they met to make sure that they could handle whatever came at them and are the strongest couple I know.
There is never a day I don’t think my mother is one of the most amazing people around. She is everything I want to be and shows me how to have strength and wisdom. When I was in ninth grade I was difficult to handle. During this time my uncle had a really bad accident at his farm. He ended up in a coma and the doctors didn’t think he would survive. It was hard for Allen and my mother because my father was very close with my uncle.
Then I met a guy who lived near me and I had the biggest crush on him. I would sneak out to see him. After a few weeks, I got caught. Sadly, this was also the day my parents found out they had to end my uncle’s life. I remember walking into the funeral home and thinking what stupid mistakes I had been making, that while all this was happening I should have been with my parents trying to support them and my uncle.
What really hit me hard was when we walked out of the funeral home, my uncle’s youngest son ran up to the casket and yelled, “Daddy, wake up, the party is almost finished.” Everyone broke down and cried. Now, a few years later, I look back on how stupid I was and realize that everything my mother has done for me was to try to protect me.
I never have a hard time saying that my mother means the world to me; without her I don’t know how I would get through life. Her determination to work hard day in and day out to earn enough so that I can get an outstanding education at a private school is unbelievable. Although we can’t afford some things others in my school can, Mom is so generous.
She has taught me to become independent and work hard for what I want, to know that I am a woman of great potential. I hope to be as great a woman as she is. I only want to prove to her that she has done a great job raising me.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.