I Was Raised by a Single Mother, & it Made Me Who I Am Today

The other day, my mom surprised me with a question. She asked “do you think I did enough? Could I have done better? Would you have changed anything?” Shocked that she even asked that question, I remained silent. So, mommy, this is my response.

Our story.

To say my mom is a modern-day superwoman is an understatement. She has gone through so much turmoil and hardship, only to grow and come out stronger on the other side. While going through a divorce, my mom saw the opportunity to create a better future for both of us. She went back to college, graduating with TWO degrees and honors. Even with a degree, the odds were still against her. She was officially a single mom, now facing undergraduate loan debt, and searching for a full-time job. She took a risk, followed her dreams, left the little family we had behind, and moved north.

As the only African American woman at her job, she began climbing the corporate ladder. She took advantage of every training, conference, and opportunity that could put her at the top. After a year, her work finally paid off. She was happy, making an impressive salary, and proving those who doubted her wrong. Even though she was thriving in the workforce, she had a mother’s guilt. I feel like every working mom goes through this; they feel if they’re too happy or too successful, then their child(ren) are suffering in some way. To compensate for these feelings, before I started school, my mom made the decision for us to move back home. She bought our dream family home and transferred to her company’s branch in our hometown, trying to preserve her successful work career. Her main reason for the move was to allow me to be closer to family and experience the same memories she did during her childhood. With this move came an increase in my own happiness, but I noticed my mom was dwindling.

When she arrived at the new branch, she was assigned a new supervisor. To simply put it, her new boss was wretched. He was your stereotypical corporate America, white-privileged, male boss that didn’t understand how a woman of color could be so successful. He especially didn’t understand how my mom was doing all of this without a husband by her side. He made her life a living hell as a test of her strength: unreasonably long hours, constant doubt of her accomplishments, and, the most hurtful of all, criticism of the sacrifices she made as a mother. My mom went from working her dream job to rethinking all her life choices leading to this. After a couple of years, my mom decided enough was enough. She went to another job, taking a dramatic pay cut, but she justified this by enjoying the extra time she had with me. She still wasn’t happy at this job, and honestly, I haven’t seen her happy in the workforce since we were up north. I feel guilty because I know she’s in that position because of her love for me, but I plan to make it up to her in the future.  

How her actions molded me.

All of my mom’s actions and sacrifices have opened my eyes to what is wrong in the world and inspired how I want to address some of these problems. When she took her new job’s pay cut, we struggled. There were times when we had to pick between the water bill and a doctor’s visit. Due to her work and motherly stresses, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. This is really when she had to cut corners to afford her medication, specialist visits, and missed days at work. This experience was the final eye-opener for me.

I began researching just how common this is in single-parent, minority households. The numbers were scary. As I was reading about the lack of affordable resources, decrease in quality of care, and costs of this poor care, I knew I had to help when I was older. With these factors in mind, I made it my life goal to become a pediatric oncologist. This profession will give me the opportunity to work closely with children and families who are in the most stressful and unfortunate situations. Not only will I work to provide medical care but also financial and mental care. This leads me to my ultimate life goal of opening a general pediatric office for families in disadvantageous situations.  My offices would offer free treatment to children who live below the poverty line and discounted rates to those who are in a bind or cannot afford for their children to be seen by a medical professional at the time.

Thank you, mom.

Thank you for loving me, making constant sacrifices, and inspiring me to change the world so others don’t have to go through as much as we did. You always make me proud, and I know you made nana even prouder.