I would sit by the phone and anticipate my dad to call for hours. One hour would pass, then one hour would become two and two hours would become four.
Before I knew it, I would fall asleep by the phone only to wake up in my room the next day with a heavy heart.
This was a weekly routine for me; my dad simply wasn’t around when I was a kid. But each week, my mom, being the saint she is, would always carry me to my room in my sleep and tuck me in.
She was my rock and she still is. She was the perfect example of what a mother should be: wishing she could do more but never realizing she had already done more than any kid could ask for.
As a kid, I don’t think I ever understood how much my mom did for me. Hell, I probably still don’t know how much she has done for me. I can’t thank her enough for having the strength to raise two sons by herself.
Being raised by a single mom was probably the best thing that ever happened to me; I don’t know who I’d be if it weren’t for her. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are six reasons I am a better man because a single mom raised me:
1. Grooming and style are non-negotiable
Whether it was waking up at 6 am to take me and my brother to the barber shop every Thursday morning or waiting hours to snag the last pair of matching Tommy Hilfiger jumpsuits, my brother and I were always the freshest kids in the class when we were growing up.
From an early age, my mom expressed the importance of staying well groomed and stepping outside of the box of our personal styles.
And, even now that I’m in my 20s, I just feel wrong when I go longer than a week without getting my hair cut.
2. Feminism just makes sense
The idea that someone doesn’t agree with equality of any sort just doesn’t make sense to me. Being raised by a single mom meant I never grew up thinking any type of work had a gender.
For me, moms did it all. They worked, cooked, cleaned, went to sporting events, helped with homework and still found time to make sure Santa and the Tooth Fairy never missed anything.
Being raised by my mom let me know women can do anything, and they deserve to be treated equally. Having a mom like mine is the reason I cringe every time I hear a "make me a sandwich" joke.
It's 2015, guys. Get with the program.
3. I completely get have a better understanding of women
I’d like to say that because a single mom raised me, I completely understand women. But, I don’t, and that's mostly because every woman is different and can’t be generalized. But, I have learned the secret to “understanding women.”
It's actually really simple: listening. If your girlfriend is upset with you (again) and you don’t know why, it's probably not because she’s crazy or being emotional. You are probably just not listening.
There is a difference between hearing and listening. Learn it.
Being raised by a single mom, I learned to listen intently. She taught me how to empathize with people and that everyone deserves to feel important and special.
I also learned that “it's fine” and “do whatever you want” usually means nuclear weapons are locked on and waiting to strike.
4. I have mastered the art of independence
Being raised by a single mom who worked full-time meant my brother and I had to learn to be independent.
Our mom worked her butt off to make sure we had more than we needed and that we wanted nothing. Honestly, we probably got more than we deserved at times. (Sorry Mom, ages 13-16 were pretty rough.)
Through that hard work, my brother and I learned a great deal about being independent people.
By the time I was 8, I was already ironing my own clothes, making my own afternoon snack and managing my own schedule of activities.
From an early age, my mom showed me how to be an independent thinker and how to solve my own problems.
I know she is always there when I need her, but I also know she has already taught me enough so I can solve my own problems. This is a lesson that has made my adult life extremely easy.
5. I know my way around the kitchen
Being raised by a single mom helped me learn my way around the kitchen, too. If you ask my roommates, they’ll tell you I’m a pretty good cook!
Ironically, I learned these skills because my mom was, well, less talented in the kitchen.
Being the independent problem-solver my mom raised me to be, I learned my way around the kitchen pretty easily.
My mom always taught me to do things for myself, so I started experimenting with different dishes. Before I knew it, I was making dinners for everyone.
6. I know how to be a better father
The most important thing I learned from my mom was how to be a better parent and father. I was lucky to have a pretty great stepdad during my teenage years, but before that, it was me, my brother and my mom.
It was during these years I saw my mom make sacrifice after sacrifice to make sure she raised two strong young men. I remember watching my mom wake up early and stay up late at night to take care of me and my brother.
My mom taught me to be determined and to always believe in myself. I hope that one day, I can be half the parent she is.
Being a single mom can be a thankless job, but just know we notice your hard work. It might not seem like it, but we notice it and appreciate it.