Since the day I could remember my family has always struggled. It was very hard for me to understand, but at a young age I knew I was at a very large disadvantage to many of the other kids who grew up around me. When I was four years old, my mother moved my two older sisters and me to a run-down, two-bedroom rental in Goode, Virginia. She had next to nothing to her name, and three children to raise on a $14,000 waitress income. Through elementary school, I never noticed anything odd about my family, but as I got older it became very evident the kids around me did. Kids talk, and as I went to school I heard the whispers: “Look at the holes in her jacket, how embarrassing” or “Does she wear the same shoes every day? She must be poor.” The truth is, I was poor, and everybody made me think there was something wrong with that. My mother faced the same torment, but you’d never know it looking at her. She is the reason I believe in independence.
For a period of time I didn’t understand her. Why would someone have three kids and spend her life waitressing? How can someone sustain a family that way? The thing about my mother is she would never admit if she could not do something. If she tried something and failed, she’d try again, and again, and again, until the task was done however she wanted it to be done. As a child, I never could comprehend the way she did things. I always just wanted to tell her to get help, get another job, and just do SOMETHING for me. It took me becoming an adult myself to realize she did everything for me, single-handedly, independently. When I was a teenager during an argument I asked her why she chose the life she did. She responded to me saying simply, “It was either work all day, every day, or raise my children myself. I chose my kids.” From that moment on it made sense to me. The thing about life is it’s just one long staircase, with nowhere to go but up. I was moved to Virginia for a better life, to build my future, not have it handed to me.
My mother went from being a single mother of three, scraping by each day, to owning her own house, owning her own car, and raising her children beautifully with a substantial career, completely by herself. I decided years ago that I would not rest until I became a strong, independent woman, just like her. I could never thank her enough for showing me how to be grateful and independent. My mother taught me that no matter what anyone had to say about me, as long as I am working on climbing to the top, I will always be above them. I still have a long ways to climb, but I believe that, independently, I can achieve anything.