Those six words hit hard, rang loud, and almost echoed as they were said to me last week.
Isn’t it amazing how someone’s words — even one sentence — can absolutely and completely rock your world?
You see, growing up, my parents were never married, and I was raised by a single mother.
Yes, we moved about quite a bit, and for some time, found ourselves in very unfavorable living conditions.
Yes, we had the help of my grandparents and aunts and uncles. But what is that saying — it takes a village? Well, for me, it was more than true.
Yes, we lived off the government and had very little for a large percentage of my time growing up. I remember being embarrassed while using our “different money” in the checkout line and being known as the kid who truly came from nothing. You could say it was easy to pick me out of a crowd of the “normal” kids who had a “normal” families.
Yes, I watched my poor mother struggle. I saw her beaten and likewise saw her emotionally torn apart, well over two hundred times — easily.
Yes, I held her in the hospital 16 years ago today, as it was confirmed that the bullet my stepfather used to take his own life had, in fact, worked.
Yes, there was and have been many times that I have secretly wished to have a different childhood: If it just didn’t need to be so hard, if we just didn’t have to struggle each day, if I could have permanently erased some of the images that, without a doubt, have scarred me for life.
But those were the cards I was dealt, and I didn’t realize until well into my adulthood that I had become thankful for it — all of it.
Thankful for the hardships, the frightening times of watching things that no child should ever have to see, being physically and emotionally abused, thankful for the past that I once was ashamed of.
It was our poverty that taught me to always appreciate everything I had.
It was through the physical and emotional pain of our unfortunate circumstances that has taught me empathy.
It was during the most difficult times that I grew my faith.
It was the catalyst I needed that made me dream big and never settle.
It was the consecutive years of fear that made me realize I was going to have to work for every single penny I would ever make in this life. I had nothing else to fall back on.
It was seeing the struggle and weaknesses and knowing I would use them to my advantage: shift and turn them into my strengths and power.
You see, I blame my mother for the success that I have today. I blame her for my unwavering work ethic. I blame her for who I am and what I do and the woman whom I aspire to be. I blame her for who I am to, and for, my children.
No matter what has transpired, what relationship you currently have, what water is beneath the bridge, your mother is your mother. You will always defend her, she will always hold a special place in your heart.
“You’re pathetic, just like you’re mother.”
No, my mother is not pathetic. She is still here, she is still standing, she has endured, and she has always had my best interests at heart.
It’s because of her that I am what I am today. Remember to be kind to all of our mothers, these phenomenal women, these caretakers, these selfless individuals who do the best they can with what they have. They might not be perfect, but they are certainly not pathetic.