Nearly 12 years ago, I wrote the following essay and submitted it as part of my college application. After spending four years on my bachelor’s degree and seven years on my M.D. and Ph.D., I am finally ready to begin working on this promise. I’ve felt guilty for the past several years for taking so long to finish school, but my mother has supported me 100%. I know that in the end, I’ll be able to help many more people than if I had taken a shorter route. If I ever do anything good for anyone, please thank my mother.
Prompt: What is one of your dreams, and how did it originate?
My whole life, I have lived in apartment buildings. In fact, I have lived in seven of them. At a young age, I became used to moving frequently. As I grew older, I began to realize how hard these transitions were for my mother. She and my father separated before I can remember, and my father vanished from our lives. My mother has done the best she can to provide for my two sisters and me. She works multiple jobs while, at the same time, caring for her family as both a mother and a father. I have never encountered anyone who works as hard as my mother does for her children, but no matter how hard she works, she never can make more than ends meet. Any money she saves, she eventually spends on her children. My mother always puts her children before herself. She has put her dreams on hold in order to help her children achieve their own. One of my dreams (I am reluctant to call it a dream because I am sure it will become a reality) is to one day buy my mother a home of her own.
Living in apartments, landlords control much of our lives. The same pattern always evolves. My mother tries to live in one place as long as she can, but when the rent is raised too high, we move. In one case, we were forced to move before my mother could find another place for us to live. We lived in a shelter for a while. I was only six at the time, and I actually enjoyed living in the shelter. It brought my family closer together. I did not realize the hardships it caused my mother. She hated living there. She hated not being able to provide for her children. When we finally found a place to live, my mother promised that we would not move again for a long time. She worked as hard as she could but was unable to keep that promise. We moved again a year and a half later.
No one was upset with my mother for breaking her promise. The apartment she found was wonderful. It is the nicest place we have ever lived. The apartment we live in now lacks in comparison. We each had our own bedroom, we were allowed to have a dog, and we even had a backyard. For a while, it began to feel like a real home. We lived in this dream apartment for only three years. When we moved, I resented my mother for making me leave the one “normal home” I had ever had. I did not realize how hurtful I was towards her. Not once did she make me feel like I was being selfish, but I was. I now understand that she loved that apartment more than I did. Leaving it behind, my mother felt like she was losing her last opportunity to settle down. Since then, we have moved twice. The apartment we live in now is dark and cramped. We have lived here for four years now, and to some extent, it has begun to feel like a home. I know my mother wants to move, but she would never say anything.
Though she is by no means soft spoken, my mother rarely speaks about her own wants and needs. She is too busy worrying about the wants and needs of her children. However, when she does talk about her longings, she always mentions owning a home of her own. She sometimes says to her friends, “You see this one?” referring to me, “He’s the one who’s gonna make it. But when he does, he’s gonna buy his mother a house. Isn’t that right, Shoa?” I always nod with a smile. My mother makes these comments jokingly, but I take her words seriously. I have many dreams of my own, but I also have a dream for my mother. She has been continuously weakened by the sacrifices she makes for her children. Still, she keeps pushing on. For giving me more than I could ever ask for, I want to give her the one thing she has ever asked for. I am going to buy my mother a house, so that she can finally settle down.