Hereyes bulge, her forehead begins to crinkle, and her lips squeeze tight to holdall the anger, stress, and melting pot of emotions inside her. The anger is raw,as are her words.
"Once I get the chance to leave, I will. I liveonly for my daughters, and I only do what is beneficial for myfamily."
I don't believe a man is ever as strong as the woman besidehim, especially if that woman is anything like my mom. She has endured andovercome all the pain and obstacles life has to offer, and still fights on. Sheis that last soldier on the battlefield when everyone else has given up, or died.She is a survivor. I have always thought of my mother as a caged animal, bound tothis house and family for the rest of her life in a marriage she cannot bringherself to leave. Yet Mom still goes on, day after day, carrying a vision of thefuture.
With enough hope to go round the world, she has enough room inher heart for each of her four daughters. She says we are the reasons that keepher going when it seems she has been struck the hardest by life's painful blows.Though my mom has never been the type of parent who showered us with hugs, hertelling us that made up for it all.
Some of the remarkable things aboutMom are her honesty and wisdom. She tells us the truth as she sees it, and passeson her life lessons; those are the greatest gifts I could everreceive.
Time is the essence of life. Mom has spent the majority of herswith us. She gave up a career to raise four girls, and eventually returned topursue a career in accounting. Now she is finally registered to take a CPAexamination. Juggling studying, a job, and her family, she still manages to findnot only the time, but also the energy, to do what she does.
HerSaturdays are spent as our chauffeur, taking us to our many lessons, friends'houses, the mall, birthday parties, soccer games, and any other place imaginable.Mom has said one too many times that her salary goes directly for our piano,violin, ballet and art lessons, computer classes, camp programs and all otheracademic-related activities that she believes will better us.
My motheris one of those parents willing to invest all her time and money in her children,leaving none for herself.
You cannot imagine my guilt when I am at themall shopping for clothes, and Mom shows up to meet us in her pajamas. My initialreaction is embarrassment, and my next is pity. Unless she is going to work, sheseldom dresses up, wearing clothes that most women would never wear outside. Evenwhen mom comes with us, she seldom buys anything for herself.
"I maynot be very smart, but what I know is what I see." With the eyes of a hawk,she observes and learns, and passes that knowledge on to us. She is a sage, andmy moral teacher. The most interesting conversations I have had with my mom havebeen about jobs. To teach us the meaning and importance of jobs and money, sheencourages us to work so that we can experience the pressure and difficulty ofmaking money.
Her most common comparison is how long a person working ata fast-food restaurant making five dollars an hour would have to work to pay forone of our lessons.
"Your piano lessons cost $50 an hour. That workerwould have to work 10 hours to pay for just one of the lessons you take. Moneydoes not come easily, you know, and nothing is cheap."
As a friendand trusted confidante, I can tell Mom anything. She knows about every boy I everliked, every stress I have dealt with, all the worries I have had. I talk to herevery day. Sometimes I wonder if she ever gets tired of hearing me complain, butshe greets each incident with patience, an open mind and wisdom. I admire howhonest she is with me. We learn from each other; I help Mom with her English, andshe helps me with my life.
"It is my dream to live in a big house,to be happy, to see my daughters successful," she tells us. So many of herdreams have been shattered that I want to make hers come true. She is mymotivation to achieve and to succeed. Her tired look, her anger and frustrationevoke a sadness in me that I wish I could take away. Someday I would like to buyher that big house, and free her from her cage.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.