(Preface: I know this article reads like a memoriam; she is not dead.)
If you know me personally, you know I’m a big fan of my mom. Of course, like many teenagers, I did go through my angsty ‘Ew-mom-you’re-emberassing-me!’ phase, but I’m happy to say I moved on from that around the time I was sixteen. Sixteen was a time in my life filled to the brim with an abundance of change and stress, but ultimately, a breaking point of positive change, and a newfound period of metamorphose that brought me even closer to my mom and understanding her own trauma. So that’s what this is about: giving my mother the gratitude and public thanks she deserves (but probably doesn’t want.)
Without going into too much detail, I will say my mom comes from a familial cycle of mental illness, addiction, and emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. She was raised by a teenage mother and adopted by a stepfather who, although a good man and a great pépé, struggled with alcoholism. She met my father when she was young, and while their marriage started out strong, he also eventually showed his true colors of being a manipulative, angry, and abusive husband. My dad, coming from a difficult childhood himself (homelessness, addiction, and mental illness,) was probably drawn to my mom for their familial similarities, and vice versa.
I don’t even truly know the full extent of my mom’s story, but I do know this: she took a hard look at what she endured with both her parents and my father, and she said this: “Not my kids.”
Despite everything my mom had going against her, she blossomed into the most beautiful, forgiving, and loving woman in the world. She put herself through nursing school while pregnant with my brother, and then gave birth to me two years later- both times without an epidural. She worked for more than twenty years as a maternity nurse in an impoverished city on the outskirts of Boston, taking care of not only her own immediate family, but also hundreds, thousands of women who needed her attention too. She is a hard-working nurse, always full of laughter and joy, void of judgment or negativity. These are traits, knowingly or not, she has passed down to me as a healthcare worker and future nurse. The biggest honor for me would be even half of the woman my mom is in the healthcare field.
At sixteen, my mom found the courage to finally divorce my dad and start fresh again with her life. Like I said, this was the turning point for both of us, because after this happened, it felt like we only had each other for a while. We moved into our own apartment and my mom basically raised me by herself for the rest of my teenage years and put me through my undergrad years of college financially. No matter what choice I wanted to make for myself and my future, academically or not, my mom supported me wholeheartedly. It didn’t matter what I wanted to do with my hair or my fashion, or who I wanted to bring home to date- man or woman, she was open and loving to everybody and everything that mattered to me; she was a protective parent, but she also gave me the space I needed to make my own choices and learn my lessons the hard way. Even when I was going through the hardest years of my life and juggling my anxiety disorder, the weight of the divorce, and feeling like an outcast in school, my mother has always inspired me to love myself and honor myself. I truly do not know how I would have turned out if I did not have a mother like her growing up, and continue to have. I am so grateful to have a parent like her, who nourishes my needs and my interests, who supports me unconditionally, and who has taught me that my life is meant to be lived for MYSELF.
Not only is she here for me, she is also a motherly figure for all of my other friends who may need extra maternal support. My mom has an instinctive nature to care for everybody without judgment, and that is one of the things that makes her so remarkable to me. No matter what she has been through, she does NOT complain and she does not pity herself. She continues to smile, glow, and spread love and happiness around like confetti.
My mom deserves happiness more than anyone else I know. I am so happy that she is currently living out her life with my amazing stepfather, who matches her goofy, joyful energy perfectly. She is the epitome of love, forgiveness, beauty, and kindness. I owe everything about who I am and who I am continuing to become to my wonderful mother, and I hope she knows how deeply she influences me and encourages me to carry myself with peace.