This I Believe

Marette - Tempe, Arizona
Entered on April 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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Independence Yields Success

I believe that independence and hard work yield a better future, a lesson I learned from the strongest woman I know: my mother.

“You have to go to college and get a good job,” she always told me on days I didn’t want to wake up for school. “You don’t want to end up like me.”

My mother, Norma, is a divorced mother of three who never finished high school. She is sensitive, controlling, weak and strong all at the same time.

I have a montage of memories of her during my childhood, all of which taught me the value of being independent and hard-working.

I was 11 years old when my mother sat me down one day after-school to tell me she was doing the unthinkable, divorcing my father.

“Why?” I demanded, with tears rolling down my chubby cheeks.

“You don’t know what he’s done to me!” She cried.

“What did he do?” I asked.

Silence was the answer.

“I hate you!” I yelled as I ran to my room and slammed the door.

After the divorce, my mother started working full-time, and we moved three times before finding the house we now live in. Despite the changes at home, she worked hard to ensure my sisters I wouldn’t have to change schools. Every morning, she would wake us I up at 6:30 a.m. and drive us 30 minutes away to school.

I watched her struggle to find the time and money to provide for us. Some days she worked 14 -hour days at her housecleaning job, and I wouldn’t see her before going to bed. Other nights I would crack open the door to her bedroom to hear her sniffle and cry herself to sleep in the dark.

Meanwhile, the stack of bills from SRP, Qwest and Bank of America credit cards on the oak coffee table piled higher and higher, yet she never lost her composure.

I had a newfound respect for her and her independence one day when I asked her for money I knew she didn’t have.

“Mom I need money for our trip to nationals,” I said one night after cheer practice. “It’s at Disneyland.”

“Disneyland, wow. Just give me a couple of days, ok.” She said smiling.

“Thanks Mom.”

And she got it.

Later on that year, I graduated high school and got two scholarships to ASU, and my mother cried. I often heard her on the phone with her friends talking about how well I was doing.

“Marette’s so smart, she got straight A’s this year…she’s going to a university…”

My relationship with my mother has taken 360 turn during since my parents’ divorce. I went from loving her to hating her to respecting her for her and wanting to be like her.

In December, I will graduate, and I know my mother will be cheering me on from the stands at the commencement ceremony and bragging to all of her friends. And as I look back, I know I couldn’t have achieved my goals without her love and sacrifice.