Growing up, I had a pretty average family.
It was just the four of us and some animals.
In my eyes, things seemed to be running pretty smoothly.
That is, until October 2006, when my mom announced to me privately she and my stepdad were getting a divorce.
Soon, we would be packing up and moving to Pittsburgh to be closer to her family.
At her request, however, I didn't tell my sister.
The following December, before my middle school Christmas festival, we finally broke the news together.
As expected, she took it pretty hard.
The months went by, and by the summer of 2007, we were on our way to Pennsylvania.
It was a hard adjustment for all of us at first.
As time went on and we got older, my sister and I were able to understand why our parents made the choices they did.
I credit my mom entirely for the woman I am today.
Without her ability to hold it together, my sister and I would not be the strong women we are today.
Here are the things I have learned from growing up with a single mother:
1. I never need a man to support me.
Because my mom worked her ass off to make sure my sister and I always had what we wanted, we always saw a woman provide on her own.
She was both my mom and my dad.
She was able to manage both of those roles while working, making it to school functions and sporting events and being the disciplinary force in our household.
She paid every single bill all on her own, using her hard-earned money.
She never needed a man to complete her.
Although the idea of companionship is a beautiful thing, I grew up believing it was supposed to be about teamwork.
In a lot of aspects, my marriage reflects that.
I was taught going through life with another person is a privilege.
It's not about one person leaning on the other; it's about both of you leaning on one another equally.
2. Women can make it on their own.
In my life, I've felt a lot of pity from a lot of people when I tell them I'm from a divorced home.
Maybe it's because of the fact I'm from a divorced home that I don't understand this pity.
I have never been ashamed of the way my life has turned out.
In fact, I'm proud to admit my mom is a hard-working, single mother.
I grew up watching her be independent.
I guess I don't look at single parents as being bad because I know they're capable of doing everything two parents can do all on their own.
Since I wasn't short of anything growing up, it didn't seem detrimental to me that I only had my mom.
My mom was all I needed.
3. I know how to be emotionally strong.
My mom is the strongest woman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I'm not just saying this because she's my mom, either.
I have seen life push her in ways a lot of us can't even imagine.
But, I have also seen her push back.
She stands up for what she believes in, and she doesn't care who disagrees with her.
She is confident, and she makes it clear she is perfectly fine on her own.
This type of independence doesn't come from weakness.
Instead, it comes from inner strength.
She has instilled in me that it is important to go after what you want.
She has taught me to work hard for everything I want to have in this life.
Her outlook on life is contagious, and she has shown me there is always a silver lining, despite how hard life might get at times.
You don't have to put up with negative things in your life.
My mom has given me the courage to rid myself of situations that aren't making life better for me.
Whether it's a friendship, relationship or job, if it's not good for you, leave.
There is absolutely no reason to stick around for anything that is making you unhappy.
I couldn't even begin to imagine what my life would have been like if my parents hadn't gotten a divorce.
I can't say I want to know, though.
My mom did an excellent job of raising her children on her own.
I don't believe I would be the person I am today had my life played out differently.
I'm proud of my mom and the strength she has shown all of us kids throughout the years.
I know it wasn't easy.
Although I'm not sure how she did it, I'm so grateful she did.