My mom was 21 when she got pregnant with me. She had to grow up faster than her peers, and take on a huge responsibility. Probably 10 years too early.
As a teenager, my mom ran away from home. She squatted in a warehouse in Oakland and became a performance artist. In a way I kept her from growing up on her own terms. In another way, I put her on track, forcing her to build a stable environment for us.
When I was born, she dedicated herself to giving me opportunities that she never had. And once she set me up with everything I needed to thrive, she refocused on to her own goals.
I was nine when she enrolled in community college to start her prerequisites. A few years later, she got into nursing school.
On my mom’s first day, she came into my bedroom with her backpack and her travel mug full of coffee, looking like an ecstatic little kid. I remember grabbing my phone off the nightstand to take a picture, capturing her dorky reading glasses, her bangs pinned back, and her big excited smile.
There were days, when she would leave me at the apartment for hours. Every time she left, she’d remind me ‘not to put metal in the microwave!’ I remember being jittery with excitement at having the house to myself. I also remember the nights where the trees whipped the windows, and I wished she was home with me.
Being students at the same time gave us a common goal. My mom and I became each other’s dedicated cheerleaders. Before big tests she would get paranoid, convinced she’d get a C. When she inevitably came home with A’s, I’d shout, ‘I told you so!’
Just like the way my mom grew up faster for my sake, I did the same for her too. I lost my entitlement early. My friends sometimes seem to forget all of the sacrifices their mothers have made for them.
My mom has made countless sacrifices for me. I’m just glad that giving up on her on dreams wasn’t one of them.
With a Perspective, I’m Charlie Stuip.
Charlie Stuip is a high school sophomore and lives in Alameda. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio.