This I Believe

Jillian - Brooklyn, New York
Entered on February 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: parenthood

If my father had stuck around, I wouldn’t be me – this I believe.

If he hadn’t relinquished his parental rights, I wouldn’t have been raised in an all female household, where my mother and grandmother played husband and wife to my sister and I.

After the divorce, my grandmother had moved into the apartment downstairs and from that day on, she wasn’t just another birthday card in the mail. My mom managed to get a job as a receptionist, working evenings. Being six years old, it was confusing why mom never fed me dinner and put me to bed, yes, but not alarming. Because as quickly as my dad had disappeared, was as quickly as my grandmother had arrived. There she was after school, helping with homework, and bath time and reading that ever so important nighttime story. And when I woke up, there was mom again! They had become a tag team, slapping hands like they do in wrestling when they trade turns. My sister and I were two of the happiest children, growing up with everything we needed. The whole thing seemed so natural.

But what I didn’t notice was that with my father no longer in the house, we were barely scraping by. Mom had to eventually work two jobs in order to make ends meet. My grandmother had to work post retirement in order to help pay the mortgage. And in retrospect, I remember that solemn look on their face when certain times were tighter than others. Despite it all, they never let on.

Now twenty-eight and supporting myself, my mother still works two jobs in order to pay her bills. And my grandmother has recently been entered into a nursing home and for the first time in my entire life, does not live with my mom. It’s been a hard transition for all of us and yet, I try to apply what I learned from them to my own life and future.

I believe that they did the best job they could with what they had, which was each other. And us. I believe that through struggle we all come out stronger people on the other side. I believe that although my dad leaving wasn’t ideal in an ideal world, I grew to be an optimist, trusting that anything is possible.

My grandmother always says, “when life give you lemons, throw them back through life’s windows”. And that’s exactly what we did.