This is an essay by Payton Ford, a finalist for the 2018 WeParent Scholarship. He is a student at Stetson University.
All of us have been affected by our parents in some shape or form. Whether it is our personal beliefs, the traditions that we practice, or an uncanny habit that we picked up from them, our caretakers have helped to shape us as people and allowed us to become the individual that we are today. For me personally, I have only had one parent involved in my life, allowing me to learn some valuable life lessons along the way.
My mother is a very strong woman. She raised two children all on her own, all while being a full time college student and working two jobs to support our family. One of the most important lessons I learned from her is that giving up is not an option. Even when times were tough, she was still there to support us and made sure that we had everything we needed. We never went hungry, she always made sure that there was food on our plates and clothes on our backs. I am still using this lesson to this day, in classes, at work, with my practice on my instruments, even when I don’t understand something I know that giving up is not an answer. You need to be able to push yourself to do better, otherwise you will never progress in life.
Although my mother was able to provide everything that was needed for me and my sister, there was yet another lesson to be learned: Something that you WANT is not always something that you NEED. Growing with only one household income, money was tight. I quickly had to become adjusted to the fact that I was not going to get what I wanted. Instead of fancy video games, we got books and socks as presents. At the time I was a bit resentful, but now that I am older I am quite glad that I was exposed to this view of life at such an early age. Being able to realize the difference between want and need is vital in this world and allows you to appreciate the simple things in life, humbling you as a person.
Even though I did not have a father growing up, I was very lucky to have a great support group to have my back. My grandparents happened to live right down the road and I was blessed to have a great group of friends. This just goes to show that even if you do not always have the best family situation, you can always make your own support group by surrounding yourself with a great group of friends. Knowing this, this has led me into the direction for what I want to be in the future. As a teacher, I want to be able to support my students, no matter how diverse their background is. Teachers are also mentors and can make a big impact on students, and I want to be able to be that support system for students, someone they can lean on when they feel like they have no one else. Although growing up in a single parent household is not the most ideal situation, I am actually very appreciative and proud to call myself the child of a single mother knowing that this has helped me to grow and shape me into the person I am today.