By Kevin Cushingberry Jr.
Growing up in a single-parent household helped define my childhood.
My parents divorced five days before my fifth birthday, so I only have a few memories of living with my father. It’s always been me and my mother against the world, not because I was the man of the house at 4 years old, or because I was her only child, but because we were all we had.
When I see kids who don’t want to eat at the dining table, or who complain about cleaning their rooms or taking the trash out, I think of my pre-teen self. I never really understood why my mom was teaching me how to wash my own clothes, but she was trying to prepare me for my future.
My mother would cook for us every night, rarely asking for my help. My favorite entrée was spaghetti with Ekrich sausage. Every meal would have a salad, so I would help out by washing and tearing the lettuce, or cutting up tomatoes. Many times we would end up eating late because I would forget to take meat from the freezer when I got home from school.
There were so many times that my mom asked me to do something and I completely forgot. Maybe I was too busy playing video games or watching ESPN to listen, but as I got older I saw how my disregard for my mother’s authority impacted her.
I wasn’t intentionally disrespecting her. I just didn’t understand the importance of listening.
When I was in high school, I was out and about more with my friends and girlfriends. My mom didn’t just come to every one of my football games. She picked me up any time I asked, no matter how far away I was.
Every time I needed someone, my mom answered the call. She was ever-present.
As I have found success in my studies, I have had opportunities to transfer to universities far from home. My family worried about me leaving. My biggest concern has always been my mom.
She said she would support me no matter where I went, and I saw her get prepared. She started going out more and making more friends.
I was the one who started to rethink my decision. I didn’t end up leaving home. I decided to stay at Eastfield for another year.
However I realized I didn’t have to worry about my mom anymore. She was strong and could make it on her own. She had shown her strength since the beginning while she raised me on her own, but this was the first time I actually recognized it.
I knew my mom made money and was the reason I enjoyed nice meals and had Nikes on my feet, but I never realized the work she put into training me to take care of myself.
I’m now confident that regardless of what happens with college, friends, girlfriends or anything else, nothing will be able to break the bond I have with my mother. She will always be in my corner to face the world.