Growing up, I’ve always been compared to my mother in appearance, personality and for my caring nature. It’s my favorite compliment because my mom is the most influential woman in my life.
The world has deemed healthcare workers modern heroes, which is a truly deserved title, but my mom proved her hero status to me years ago.
By the time I was four and my sister was two years old, my mom had spent three years as a stay-at-home mom. She grew restless at home and began a part-time cashier position at Toys “R” Us, but she knew she had a more fulfilling career path ahead of her.
She was driven by her passion to help people and enrolled at the Community College of Philadelphia in January 2009 to complete an associate degree in Culture, Science, and Technology.
As young kids, my sister and I tended to get in the way of my mom’s schoolwork, often distracting her by making messes around the house and constantly yelling out her name. Still, we sometimes managed to help her.
During the holidays when I was younger, our house was decorated with Christmas-themed stuffed animals on our couch. One day, my sister and I saw my mom talking to them and we thought she looked silly, so I asked her what she was talking about.
She said she was giving the stuffed animals an important presentation because she was anxious about doing it in front of her classmates. Needing to be involved, I ran upstairs, grabbed some of my favorite stuffed animals and plopped myself on the couch, giving her more “people” to practice in front of.
With the encouragement of her family, she never looked back. I was headed into fourth grade and my sister into second grade, so my mom held tightly onto our relationship as she stepped into a nursing career.
She attended Abington Memorial Hospital Dixon School of Nursing in Horsham, Pennsylvania, as a full-time student and full-time mom from August 2011 to May 2013 and earned her diploma as a registered nurse.
My mom then worked for a year as a patient care assistant nurse in the surgical trauma and neurocritical care units at Jefferson Abington Hospital and another year as a registered nurse, charge nurse and medication nurse at The Horsham Clinic in Ambler.
During those years, my mom balanced her day jobs with night classes at Pennsylvania State University working toward her nursing degree, which she earned in August 2015.
I was seven years old when my mom started school and 13 years old when she completed it. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I watched my mom finally realize that she is capable of doing what she loves.
Since 2014, she’s worked as a registered nurse and charge nurse in medical surgical, abdominal organ transplant and transgender units at Temple University Hospital. Recently, she was offered a position in Temple’s cardiac intensive care unit.
During the past two years of the pandemic, my mom has been consumed with work as a nurse at Temple University Hospital, caring for hundreds of COVID-19 patients and silently mourning when many of them passed away. She contracted the virus twice, resulting in the permanent dysfunction of her taste and smell. Although her work can be an emotional rollercoaster, she never faltered in her desire to help people.
Despite the emotional and physical trauma associated with being a healthcare worker during the pandemic, she consistently prioritized her role as a mom.
While she worked draining 12-hour night shifts in the spring of 2020, she spent her free time comforting me. I complained about issues that were small compared to the tragedies in her hospital unit, like losing my senior year of high school due to the pandemic. She validated my feelings, held my hand and lived through isolation with me.
My mom’s constant support encourages me to pursue any path that I love no matter how many times it changes because I know she will be there through every step. Watching her balance the roles of a student, nurse and parent inspired me to know I’m capable of anything I have the will to achieve.
I aspire to be a woman who lives with the same vein of care and dedication as her. My mother has always been a hero, but I am proud to see her now receiving the recognition she deserves.