I am the child of a single parent.
My mother is one of those superhuman phenomenons; she raised me by herself, like a true, unseen warrior.
I have never gone without, and I have rarely ever found myself in conversation about the supposed vacancy. Working like an iconic superhero duo, we always had each other and anything we could need.
Honestly, I think much of my optimism and positive outlook has everything to do with some secret wizardry mothers must possess, and her hard work. Never once have I felt the absence of a father figure, nor did I wish my family upbringing had been different.
I am thankful for it. Here is why:
I know that loyalty can look like many different things.
I have always felt intensely about family loyalty—the bonds that are perfectly cemented together. Although, in a way, I missed what family loyalty really means because they are never perfectly anything. I learned that loyalty is not something that is always synonymous with family members. It can be found in many different ways, not simply just because someone shares a last name. I learned to appreciate true loyalty when it is given to me and made loyalty that much more important to give.
I am powerfully bonded with my family and chosen family.
My mom is the eldest of five children, so growing up I was divinely lucky to be surrounded by aunties and uncles who felt like a crossbreed between older siblings and parental figures. With aunties who took me horseback riding, did my hair, let me travel with them, and even housed me at different points, I have been gifted a multitude of experiences and bone-deep bonds.
We are largely the result of our environments, and I was raised by a league of powerful women. I have been carved with strong hands into a person who is just that. The days when I am not, I have a steady flow of people to help raise me back up.
I am emotionally self-sufficient.
I don’t have unnecessary expectations of people. This doesn’t imply cynicism, in fact, quite the opposite. I have been given what I see as an empathetic understanding of humanity. I don’t expect a title to act as the catalyst for someone to become super-dad. Titles are earned, not given, and this thinking has allowed many people in my life to take on multiple roles, even when they don’t need to. If someone chooses not to be a part of my life, I am not ruined and I can empathize that they don’t get to partake in the badass human I am becoming.
I am a round peg in a world of square holes.
Or whatever that saying is. Growing up without the cookie-cutter family dynamic has made me anything but cookie-cutter myself. I don’t rely on social norms to fuel my self-respect and validity.
This quote. Period.
“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
People suffer in many different ways. We battle our own demons unseen to those around us, and amidst the trudging and wading through struggle, we inflict pain on others (a friendly fire of sorts); we can choose to let these things wound us and become angry, or we can remove ourselves from the equation and rise above it. Be better, not bitter.
If there was just one thing I have learned over the years, a simple nugget of wisdom attained through the cracks in my cemented foundation, it is that humans are imperfect and families are imperfect.
The typical picture-perfect family is not an immalleable indicator of something good. It’s a magical hodgepodge of people, from different places, loving each other as we stumble through our own evolutions. Feeling a sense of community is fundamental—a sacred piece of what it means to be a happy human being. We want to feel seen and understood, and feeling a mutual bond amongst your family signifies just that.
We think of these people who share bits of our DNA as the immediate default—the ones who will always be there. But I am lucky enough to know it can come from anywhere.
I am not angry or lacking because a man chose not to be in my life, I am who I am because of it…and for that, I am grateful.