Never give up

Earlier this week I was driving home after picking up my freshman daughter from junior varsity basketball practice.

I don’t see her very much right now because I’m working 60+ hours a week.

And she’s busy getting straight As and busting her bum on the basketball court.

On our drive home, she asked me how I, a penniless divorced mother who started out as a registrar in the ER fifteen years ago, ended up in my current position in healthcare management.

So I told her.

But first I asked her if she remembered.

The food stamps.

The struggle.

The day I had to sell our TV and furniture to pay the mortgage.

The times I spent sobbing over her brother’s autism diagnosis, not knowing if the path I had chosen for him was the right one.

The nights I spent making salsa or jewelry or whatever I could to sell so that I wouldn’t lose our house.

She just looked at me and said, “Mama, all I remember is that you never gave up.”

So with a lump in my throat, I told her about my aspirations to do more.

To be better.

For years, social workers and educators told me it was okay to accept help.

To live on welfare.

To keep my income low enough so I could receive benefits.

To resign myself to a life of handouts and free rides I didn’t earn.

After all, I had a child with special needs.

Poor me.

“Stay home.”

“Don’t work so hard.”

“Let the system take care of you.”

And for a moment, I did that.

I dropped my sword and crumbled into a sobbing pile for longer than I’m proud of.

But then one day…I got up.

I decided I wasn’t going to live that way or teach that example to my kids…so I changed.

Fast forward to four years ago, when my daughter fell in love with basketball.

She had all the heart and ambition and aggression in the world…she just couldn’t make the team.

We live in an area with a mega high school and the girls are like mini WNBA players. They have been shooting hoops since they were in diapers.

So as hard as my daughter tried, she kept falling short of making the team.

She was cut three years in a row.

So this summer she joined a travel league, simply for the joy and love of playing the game. She learned a ton, and played her heart out.

Then this fall when she started her freshman year, we shifted 20 minutes east and I enrolled her in my hometown high school. She did not like me much for it, but I made the choice I felt would be best for her development and education.

High school activities should not bring about resentment and rejection.

Let’s agree to save that for dating. 😛

High school activities should be about fun and memories.

So this little trooper conditioned every single day after school for 2 hours in the gym.

Some days she was the only kid there.

She worked and worked and worked….

and looky loo.

Mama’s little baby in a JV uniform.

Try to watch her during the National Anthem without crying.

I dare you.

So Tuesday night as we’re pulling into the driveway and I’m ending my story, my daughter says, “Mama, you know Zion and I wouldn’t be who we are today if you hadn’t gotten back up, right?”

Oh, my little baller and wise old soul.

Best.

Compliment.

Ever.

 

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