My mother had always been my hero.
She became a widow at the age of 25, you see. I was only two years old when she got the news that my father did not make it to the Middle East. There was a suicide bomber, and he was so close in proximity to that person that his fellow soldiers did not even manage to bring home his body in one piece.
Since my dad was new to the service, he did not get to leave a lot of money for us when he died. Mom struggled to keep everything my father supposedly got to give us a comfortable life, particularly a house and a car.
The first one to go was the car. The bank towed it when my mother failed to pay for its mortgage for three consecutive months. She was hell-bent on keeping the house because Dad had sweet memories there, but she also had to let go of it when the mortgage became too high.
After that, we moved to a one-bedroom apartment in the city. It was a far cry from the old house, but Mom chose to live there so that she could have enough money for my growing needs as a toddler. Around that time, one job still sufficed, and she only had to leave me to the neighbor for a few hours.
When I entered elementary school, though, my mother had to get two jobs to support me. After all, even if it was free to go to a public school, there were still many extra expenses that came with having a student in the household.
To save money, my mother would pack leftover food from dinner as my lunch the next day. If she did not have time to cook, she would give me a dollar to buy a burger at McDonald’s. Then, instead of riding the school bus like the other kids, I learned how to use the public bus. My mother could have traveled with me since she went to work on a bus, but we had different routes. She would wait until I was safely sat behind the driver before crossing the street to wait for her bus.
Whenever my mother and I would walk home from the bus stop in the afternoon, she would always say, “Baby, I’m sorry that you need to experience this. Don’t worry; when I get a higher-paying job, you can go on the school bus like the others.” Every time, though, my answer was, “I am happy to ride the bus, Mom.”
I did not always mean it, of course. But because I grew up seeing my mother’s hardships, I learned to value everything she did for me. Hence, when I graduated from high school, I told her that I was thinking of skipping college to start working full-time. My goal was to buy back the same house that we lost right after Dad passed away and let it be Mom’s retirement home.
However, my mother disagreed with me. She said, “No, baby, you will go to college. I saved enough money for at least two semesters. I want to see you become a chemist.”
It was the first time that Mom told me what she wanted me to be. Out of respect, I went with the flow. Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks when I handed my diploma to her four years later.
Being A Working Girl
Thanks to my impressive grades, I got employed in a massive pharmaceutical company two weeks after graduation. I could have moved us to a nicer condo and bought a car for myself with my starting salary, but I didn’t. I rode the train and brought packed lunches to work to save as much money as possible to give the current owner of our old house an offer that they could not decline.
I managed to fulfill my promise within five years. During that period, I was taking double shifts almost every day. Mom and I had not celebrated Christmas and New Year together for that long because the company offered triple pay to the employees who continued to work even on holidays.
When we settled back into our old house, though, I suddenly felt a strong desire to resign from my job at the pharmaceutical company. Since I had already given Mom what she wanted, I thought that I could go after what I wanted, becoming a novelist.
Changing Careers Saved Me
I discussed my plan with my mother because it was too big for one person. I said, “Mom, I have been experiencing work burnout for some time now. If I don’t stop going to that place, I might need to see a counselor soon.”
When I got my mother’s support, I filed my resignation letter at once and began working on my first book. I even dolled up the garden and turned it into a bit of sanctuary so that I could get inspired to be creative.
The change in my disposition did not appear immediately, but I looked forward to waking up and writing again whenever I went to bed. I was excited to work – that’s not something I ever experienced before, but I felt blessed to experience it now.