People ask me all the time about my dad. People ask me all the time what it’s like to grow up with a single mom. I don’t blame them for being curious, how could I? It’s human nature… we all want to know everything. What I don’t appreciate is the pity. I don’t need it and I don’t want it, so don’t give it to me. I’ve learned that that’s not an easy request to fill… I can see it in your eyes when the topic comes up. But it’s ok. I get that it’s hard to not look at me differently once you know.
But you don’t know everything.
You didn’t hear me asking over and over again why all of my friends had two parents when I only had one.
You didn’t taste the salt running down my cheek as you kissed away my tears.
You didn’t smell the coconut scented shampoo or the lavender body wash I used every night during my bath.
You didn’t feel the warmth of my breath as I fell asleep next to you in bed after a nightmare.
You didn’t see me fall apart on the nights where I felt like it was my fault. That I wasn’t good enough for you to stick around for.
But she did.
Here’s what you do know:
You heard me tell you that I was graduating high school in the top 10 of my class and going to college on scholarships and awards.
You tasted that pizza as my eyes locked with yours for the first time in 17 years and all you could do was make small talk.
You could smell the sweat of little kids running around and playing as you watched your own daughter, almost an adult, and that’s when you realized that you missed her grow up.
You felt the cold slap of reality when I sat across the table and pretended I was happy to see you. I wasn’t.
You saw me become something without you. You saw me as I am. Strong. Not because of you, but in spite of you.
And because of her.
So, to the man who decided to leave and to every person who decides that I need pity, let me say this: there’s a lot you didn’t see and a lot that you don’t know… but know this: I am strong. I am brave. I am loved. And that is enough.