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I never quite had the perfect childhood. My friends have memories of playing, laughing, riding bikes, and family road trips. I don't have any of those memories. My most vivid memories from childhood are of red and blue police lights flashing in my eyes. I also recall memories of smoke and liquor. When I was age seven, my father disappeared. I hardly knew him before he was gone. He was like a stranger in my life. Later I learned that he was dead.
My mother was always involved with the wrong crowd, including gang members, drug addicts, and alcoholics. Her boyfriends were either in prison or just released. It was common for me to notice a new bruise on my mother’s arm before I could even understand how she got it. The boyfriends she had hit her and grabbed whatever objects they could to either swing or throw at her. At times I tried to help her by biting, hitting, scratching them, but I was so small that I easily got thrown against a wall or tossed to the floor. Then all I could do was cry and run to the neighbors for help. Whether the boyfriends were arrested or not, my mother always seemed to take them back. She was the type who put her boyfriends before others.
My whole childhood I raised myself, surviving on the Social Security benefits I got from my father’s being deceased. The school supplies and materials I needed all came from monies I received from the government. I can’t even remember the last time my mother bought me something with her own money. Without gas money, she wouldn’t take me to school half the time, so I often walked at least an hour every day to get there and back. My mother often sent me to live with my grandma for weeks at a time while she partied. She would come home for a day, grab a bag full of clothes, and leave, with no word about when, if ever, she was coming back. I remember crying and shouting, “If you love me, you’ll stay.” I always got a hand shoving me back and a door slammed in my face.
My grandma was the only one to comfort me, telling me everything would be okay. She became my mother figure, the woman I looked up to for everything, and the woman who told me to “never give up.
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"Childhood Memories: Mom, Dad, and the Gang-Bangers." 123HelpMe.com. 07 Apr 2020
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When I was age nineteen, my grandma passed away. I felt I lost the one person I had left in my life that I loved very much. I wanted to give up. I felt alone. Then I remembered that my grandma taught me to never give up. Everything I began to do I did for her. I was able to get my own place and a car, go to school, and juggle four jobs: daycare on weekdays, babysitting and house cleaning on weekends, and hostessing on holidays. My grandma always said, “Hard work pays off in the end,” and it does. I don’t like being pitied because the struggles I faced are what made me who I am today. Having my own responsibilities at a young age made me grow into a mature young woman. Despite the hatred I had toward my mother, I have forgiven her for everything she has put me through. Her neglect turned me into an independent and strong young woman. I don’t want to live struggling like my mother has always done. I do what needs to be done to pursue a career because when the time comes and my sister wants to leave the chaos of my mother’s home, she’ll always be able to live with me, as she grows older.
Although my mother and I still don’t get along, we talk occasionally. We don’t share secrets or talk about our private lives, but we are civil now. She apologizes often for the trials she has put me through, but I say, “No, it’s okay, because it allowed me to grow and learn from others’ mistakes.” I’m not an emotional person, so sharing my feelings is hard, but that’s my mother, and no matter what she’ll always be part of my life. My grandma always said, “Never rely on others to do things for you; instead do them yourself.” I’ll admit it’s hard for me to trust people after the way I was treated by my mother, but in a strange way that’s also good. I keep to myself a lot, which helps keep me focused on staying on the right path. My grandma was a strong, independent, hardworking, and amazing woman, and I hope to follow in her footsteps, building a successful, responsible life for myself. If and when I have children of my own, I will surely know whose path to follow—and, just as importantly, whose to avoid.