It’s tough being separated from the ones you love.

The intensity of the pain tends to be associated with numerous factors, but the most influential seems to be none other than the way in which you were separated from them.

This is the story on why I no longer live with my mother.

This is the story on how we got separated.

This story took place in Modesto, California, in the later months of 2015. Sometimes when I try and relive the moment, I think it happened just a few months ago…the choice I made is always so fresh in my mind.

I’ve lived in Modesto for years, but in the moments of this story, I had particularly been living in an apartment complex with my mom and my oldest brother.

If you’ve ever lived with a single parent, are currently living with one, or you are one, you may be fairly familiar with the stress a single parent can undergo. As with anyone, too much stress tends to result in negative effects on not only that person directly, but everyone around them.

My mother, at this point in time, had been doing things on her own for awhile; she worked a full eight hours, got her kids to school, made sure her kids got home from school, made sure we had breakfast, money for lunch, and dinner. Years prior to this, the bus was our only source of transportation. We haven’t always had things easy, and my mom didn’t always have a lot of help.

A couple months before the move, things in our two-bedroom apartment weren’t going so well. Many would look at the situation as a minor one, and would shake their head at just how insignificant it appears. But, in the eyes and hearts of those involved, the situations we were facing were all but small.

The issues: My mom was dealing with the stress of a single parent. She did all the previously mentioned and more, including buying us supplies for projects, continuously taking us to get new shoes due to our seemingly- endless growth spurts, and of course, dealing with problems on the playground.

If you’re not familiar with Modesto, let me fill you in on what the kids there are like…

I wouldn’t sit here and feed your ears a bunch of bs, but I won’t lie to you either. Many, not all, but many, of the kids there believe they’re bada$$es. Eight-year olds had Timberlands and carried knives if their parents felt they “needed” to. Eighth-graders thought they had to earn their spot in the ranks by fighting anyone who “crossed” them. The schools there are not any I’d recommend, and I can tell you now that no matter how good my brother and I tried to be, we couldn’t always avoid trouble.

I won’t get into specifics about what trouble we got into, but I’ll just say it was enough to add another stressor into our lives, including my mothers. It was little things like this that attached themselves to bigger problems like those, that then intertwined with daily inconveniences like that. It wasn’t helping that my mother was doing everything on her own, and it wasn’t of any use that we couldn’t always understand why she was so stressed out.

I mentioned earlier that when stress becomes too big of a piece to chew, it has an impact on not only that one person, but everyone around them.

My brother and I got good grades, but we didn’t always do our chores, we didn’t always act grateful for what we were given, and we were quicker to give our mother attitude then we were to give her a hug when she walked in the door each day. At the time, I felt grown. I thought I was so mature because I helped look after my brothers and because I did certain things on my own. This sense of maturity came with a nasty attitude for some reason, and mother was not happy.

My attitude, her tolerance, my brother’s anger, and everyone’s constant stress seemed to be rolling down a hill of snow; the “snowball” just grew… and grew.

I have yet to mention my dad. He was very well in the picture, just not in the one we took with our mother. We would see him every other weekend, but the time we spent with him seemed like a getaway from all of the stressors of home. In the car rides to Stockton, I would vent to my dad and cry about how mean mom was for not letting me go here, stay with this friend, or say that word. Of course his solution was to move in with him, in Stockton.

This was a reoccurring gesture; it was a thought that came to mind each time my mom and I argued, but I loved my mother with the strongest passion anyone could manifest. When we weren’t arguing, anyone could easily verify we all truly did love one another. No matter where we lived, how old we were, or what our situation was, we had always lived with my mom. During my parents’ separation, the courts decided it would be best to keep it that way. I never imagined living more than two weeks without her in my sights, but now, that’s exactly what I’ve learned to do.

Don’t quote me, but I believe it was late November when we had approached my mom with the idea of moving. The next couple of months were sometimes awkward, sometimes chaotic, but mainly, just a blur.

I honestly don’t remember packing, and I don’t even remember how the idea of moving was exactly presented to my mom. The events before and after the move were much clearer than the actual move itself.

Though I cannot properly recollect the events and their origins, I will never forget how horrible everyone felt. I had hurt my mom, pulled my brother out of a good school (he attended school outside of town at this time), and I now felt like I had made a selfish decision. Of course I wanted to be with my dad, but I just felt bad for hurting others in the process.

It was only recently that I decided it was meant for my brother and I to move. My brother and I have our dad around much more, and I got accepted into an early college academy. Things are now more stable and positive for my mom and us, and I’m just now seeing that this move was only a temporary hurdle.

If you look back at the emotion I bled at the beginning of this piece, you’d see how much this separation from my mom really impacted me. I miss her everyday and I wish she could be here, or I there, to personally discuss how each day played out.Currently, we FaceTime on our phones, we text, and we call one another.

We now visit her, in Brentwood, every other weekend. Our relationship is stronger than ever and as I’ve matured, I can now clearly notice when and why she is stressed, and I can do a much better job of reminding her how appreciated and adored she is.

My mother is beautiful, both inside and out. The time I’ve spent away from her has only allowed me to look at her life from a new perspective. Her entire life, from her childhood to adulthood, has been full of change and struggle, but from what I’ve seen, she’s always put her foot down when it came to standing up for herself or her kids.

My mother is strong. Strong is really an understatement, but you’d never really understand just what I meant until you’ve gotten to know her; meeting her is a different story. She wears an armor that reflects business. She refuses to settle and she won’t take attitude from anyone. She has raised us on respect, gratitude, responsibility, and love. It took us a little while to reflect these teachings, but now I can say I am proud of the people my brother and I have become, and I’m even prouder of my parents for all of  their efforts.

A message for the kids with single parents:

much of the media has taught us that the definition of a family is this one specific image, and if your family doesn’t look like that, that means its broken. This is NOT true.

I am very fortunate that I have both of my parents in my life, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard for me growing up. During assemblies, it was rare that my parents could make it because my mom was working and my dad was too, in another city. Going through baby photos was always emotional because I would always find a picture of my parents together, or a picture of both my parents and I. School events like parent picnics and field trips always left me torn, because I was never sure who I was supposed to invite, and when I did decide, the chances of them showing up were close to none.

I know others wouldn’t have these issues, because both parents aren’t around to decide over. Not having both parents,  having single parents, or not knowing your parents at all can really damage a kid, but sometimes our circumstances are what shape us to become some really extraordinary people.

The other night before I went to sleep, the urge to share this story hit me. I haven’t really shared my feelings about this move until now. It has been a little over a year now, but it is still a fresh wound. I know what I did hurt my mom, but I hope she understands that in that moment, moving seemed like it’d benefit everyone, and though I miss her greatly, I know this decision brought about great things for us all.

I love her greatly, and I could never place a limit on the amount of value our relationship has. She has been my rock through so much, and I have promised to be hers when possible.

Distance will never really separate us.

I share stories like this in hopes that people will feel something. If you feel something while you’re invested in one of my posts, you’re more likely to remember them. Take what you will from this, but I just hope you remember to be grateful for all that you have, and not sulk over what you don’t. The people in your life have much more worth than any pair of shoes will ever have. Look past the trip you’re taking, and pay more attention to the experience you were given the chance to endure. Look past the people who left, and be grateful to those who’ve stayed, cared for you, and loved you.

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