Opinion: Unconditional love

Being raised by a single mom shaped who I am today


Photo via Sonia Rivera

My mother and I, around the age of 7, pose for a photo at a family friend’s house. Even with every possible disadvantage against her, my mother always kept a smile on her face and was grateful for what we did have – each other.

It has always been my mother and I, for as long as I can remember. Whenever my mother had to attend social events with her friends, I always tagged along. I was, and still am, a part of her, adjoined at the hip – her other half, as she refers to it. 

I am a spitting image of her today at 17, both physically and mentally. I have my mother’s eyes, nose, smile and most importantly, her resiliency. 

No one I’ve encountered has been more determined to succeed and make their place in this world other than my mother. Being a single mom to a toddler going through the terrible twos in her early 30s, with little money and resources, took an intense emotional toll on her. She had to be both my mom and dad due to my father being out of the picture during my early childhood. 

To top it off, we were a single-income household. My mother had little-to-no spending money for herself because having a child created a dent in her bank account. She used to love spoiling herself with materialistic items before I was born. However, things changed when I came into her life, and she was placed on the backburner. My mother never once showed irritation about how she couldn’t afford the best, newest clothes, iPhones or purses.

Even with every possible disadvantage against her, my mother always kept a smile on her face and was grateful for what we did have – each other. Unlike my friends’ families, my mother and I had no other choice but to stay at home most weekends due to empty pockets, creating pillow forts together to create an at-home movie theater to rewatch classics from our small DVD collection. Those silly activities grew into sentimental memories that I will carry into adulthood – hoping to create the same meaningful experiences with my own children in the future.

To my own mother, Sonia – who probably already has tears uncontrollably streaming down her cheeks by this paragraph – thank you for never failing to make me smile, even during our toughest days, and for being a light that shines so brightly in my world. I love you. 

Now, I extend the favor to other mothers as this year’s Mother’s Day is in just a few days. I appreciate all the determined mothers, including my own, who raise great children in a society where we need them most because, to put it simply, being a parent, much less a mother, is hard work. That work should never go unnoticed, and neither should the unconditional love they provide us with.