When my mom told me, all I could do was lie paralyzed on the couch. I immediately donned a veil of anger and hurt. Her news hit me like lightning—hard and fast. I didn’t even attempt to fight or conceal the tears which collected in my eyes because I wanted her to see that I was furious. Shock and confusion welled up inside me also. She had offered our home as a temporary living place to my cousin and her girlfriend.
In my eyes, it was a catastrophe waiting to happen.
My cousin’s girlfriend and I were polar opposites. We mixed about as well as oil and water. The nicest thing we had ever said to each other was probably the word “hi” when we were introduced. We had clashing beliefs, disagreed on almost everything, and tried to make the other look bad when the opportunity presented itself. She had not worked in more than a year, believed her race was superior to all others, and had a tendency to say, “I was like, ‘WOW,’” after every statement. These are just a few of the reasons a gap existed in our relationship. My mom was the person most familiar with my dislike of her. So that day on the couch, I reminded her of my distaste by not holding back and supporting her decision like I normally would have. I let my emotions and frustrations out and hoped it would change her mind.
A puppy’s whining and begging would’ve been pathetic compared to my performance, but she still didn’t change her mind. I took a different approach and began demanding. I argued that they were without a home for a reason and were taking advantage of us. I told her if she let them stay I would like myself in my room as if it were a dungeon. That’s how I would feel: like a prisoner in my own home. My unreasonable demands did nothing for me. She still didn’t change her mind.
I changed tactics and attempted pleading once more—still no progress. She knew she was asking for the impossible and defended herself by explaining that they were family in need, and that someday we might be in need of their help. And most importantly, she said, it was the right thing to do. As she spoke, I thought back to when my mom, a single mother of two kids, didn’t possess a job, an education, or even enough money to buy an iPod. She was trying to find a home for us to live in. Not only did it make my skin clammy, but it made me feel ashamed for the way I’d acted. I interrupted my mom in the middle of her sentence to tell her that I accepted her decision.
I survived those 13 days of living with my cousin and her girlfriend, despite the fighting over the shower and the last bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Now I’m faced with a new dilemma: deciding what I want to do with my life.
Unlike some, I don’t know every detail about the job I want to pursue but I’m not completely clueless either. I haven’t chosen a specific career, but I know I want to help others just like my mom helped my cousin. My mom taught me how to be selfless and caring, even to those who don’t always seem like they deserve it. She demonstrated that helping is like giving a gift—you don’t give one to receive one in return. Helping is about giving someone a chance.
Ultimately, my mom taught me that help can be given in even the most impossible situations.