I Don’t Know What the Word ‘Mommy’ Means

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By Youniqiue Symone, 16

If you looked at any of my baby pictures, you would see a happy little girl who was loved and cared for. You would never think this little girl would go through any pain. You would also probably think that her mother was a proud and strong Hispanic woman who took care of her three daughters.

But the hardcore truth is my mother didn't take care of us. For a while, when people would ask me why I lived with my aunt, I would say my mother died when I was three. But the real truth was she left me and my sisters, and gave us to my aunt to raise.

When I was four I slowly started to rebel against my mother. I always was a child who would look at a problem - and not only look at it but also speak out on it, instead of trying to ignore it. My sisters used to say, "When I see Mommy, I'm gonna tell her to get herself together," but when Mommy came around to visit at my aunt's, they would forget all about what they had originally said.

Instead, I used to say to my mother, "I wish you would get yourself together, I wish you would stop using drugs." My mother just told me that my mouth would get me in trouble. I had to teach myself not to settle for less. 

My family hated the fact that I used to speak out. They hated the fact that I knew what was going on, and that I always questioned things when no one else did. 

For example, I asked my mother, "How come you had us when you weren't going to take care of us?" My mother would just look at me, cry, and walk away, or say, as always, "Your mouth is going to get you in trouble." She acted like her life was more important than ours. Gradually I wished she wasn't my mother and she wished I wasn't her child.

My mother had a rough childhood. Her own mother would rather play the numbers than put food on the table. And my grandmother's mother gave her up. So no one in my family had a good mother or was a good mother. They all wanted to show their mothers how to be mothers by having children at a young age. But having children that way doesn't make you a mother. 

I always used to dream about her coming to get me and my sisters and taking us away, and we would live in a house and she would have a job. I dreamed we would just be one big happy family, but finally I can say I grew up.

I grew up because I realized my mother is not going to change because I want her to. She's only going to change when she wants to. I also know, deep down in my heart, that we are never going to be a real family. As long as she tries to tell me what to do, I'm going to rebel, and as long as I tell her what to do, she is going to rebel. Our relationship is no relationship at all.

Today I am in school (with no children, thank God). Before I have any children, I am going to take up parenting skills classes. I won't hurt my children the way I was hurt.

I don't want to have children at a young age to show my mother what a "real mother" is. I want to break the cycle. If I don't, I might end up doing the same thing my mother did, and not only hurt myself or my family, but everyone else who I come in contact with.