You weren't there to feed me, change me, or teach me how to walk. You weren't there to see my first smile, or hear me say "mama" for the first time. You weren't there to do my hair for the first day of school, or to kiss my forehead goodnight. You weren't there to hold me through my first heart break. You weren't there to feel the love I could have had for you. You just weren't there, and I have learned to be okay with that.

Growing up without a mom meant that I had to learn how to do my own makeup, with a LOT of trial and error. Growing up without a mom meant I was not prepared for the red day of reckoning when I became "a woman". Let me tell you, that was one hell of an awkward conversation with my dad...It meant on some levels developing a lack of closeness and security that I am sure has shaped who I am today in some aspect of another. Growing up without a mom meant most days were fine, normal even, but some nights I would lay in bed with tears on my pillow, wondering, why me? Why couldn't I just be normal like everyone else? Why didn't she love me enough to be the person I needed her to be? Growing up without a mom meant getting my dad both a father's day and mother's day card, because he was mom and dad. Growing up with a mom meant learning to live without a love only a mother could give.

While growing up without a mom was hard, it didn't break me. It made me stronger. It made me understand why love and relationships are so important. Although I may not have understood when I was younger, growing up without you allowed to me to learn empathy, and understand why you weren't there. I grew to understand that you just weren't well, and I learned to hope for the best for you. I have learned that things happen, life happens. I have learned that I have to be stronger than what surrounds me. I believe that growing up without a mom has greatly influenced not only my pursuit of a degree in psychology, but also my strong passion for helping others in this time on earth I have been granted.

Growing up without a mom made me a better mom. I was always so terrified that I would turn into my mother, but the moment I looked into my children's eyes, I knew that wasn't me. Growing up without a mom made me realize how important it is to me to be the best mother I can be for my kids. I never want them to question my love and devotion to them. I never want them to lay in bed and wonder why I'm not there for them. Growing up without a mom made me understand that the cycle stops with me. I grew up without a mother, and I survived.