Raising Two Kids with the World Against You

As Told To Cristian Inga

Rosa, middle with her two sons, Cristian, left and Juan, right.

My childhood was difficult, filled with moments of struggle and sadness, but also of joy. When I had you two I wanted your childhood to be different, and hopefully I didn’t fail. I don’t think I did because you two are in school and continue to be great young men. My dad died when I was 15 years old due to drinking problems and soon after when I was 19 years old, my mother followed him. She was never the same after he passed away, I believe she died of sadness. My father wasn’t the best father as we saw him drink daily, but he always loved us and cared for us.

At just 19 years old, as the eldest, I was forced to assume the role of the woman and man of the house and raise your five uncles in our small town of Biblian in Ecuador. They were all younger than 10 and already had no mom and dad, but I did what I could to raise my brothers and though I couldn’t give them the best lifestyle, not one of them can look at me and tell me I wasn’t there for them. I always was and did everything for their well-being. I put them in school though it meant dropping out, it was my duty. I think that’s part of the reason I’m so strict on you guys. I was alone then and when I had you guys I was alone again.

I didn’t choose to be a single mother, but maybe that was God’s way of saying I know you can do it. I’m proud I managed to raise you two alone and I’m sure my parents would be happy too. It wasn’t easy. A new country, a new language, a new culture and a new world. I remember finding out I was going to have twins, I was so scared. All these questions popped into my head, “What am I going to do? How will I raise them? Will I fail as a mother?” Your brothers first word was actually, “Dada.” That destroyed me.

I remember the day you two were born, it was a Wednesday I believe. You were born two minutes after your brother and I clearly remember nurses walking in with you two, placing you guys in my arms. The room was empty, no decorations, no family, just me, you two, and two nurses. The room next door was full of balloons, teddy bears, family and a mom and dad. How I wished I could give you guys that welcome to the world, but I couldn’t, I was alone.

When I looked into your eyes it changed me forever. When I touched your little hands it took me back to the day my mom died. I was there on the side of her bed holding her hand tight when she left. I changed from that day on and I knew that somehow, someway we were going to get through. It didn’t matter what I had to do, but you two were going to have a better life than I did. I worked three jobs when you guys were between the ages of one and 12, but I always made time for you guys.

Going back, I remember going to a class field trip with you guys and your brother tried to feed a duck a piece of bread when suddenly the duck bit him. He cried so much, but then he said, “My mom’s going to kill you.” At that moment I realized that you two knew you didn’t have a dad, but you guys just didn’t care. I was doing my job well and you guys weren’t missing out on anything. Yeah I worked 16 hours a day, but as long as you two were okay, so was I.

Fast forward a couple years and look at us. We’re all doing fine and on the right path. I’m not going to lie, It was tough. When you slept, your brother cried and then you both would cry. It was difficult, but I did it. I’ve been able to be both your mom and dad and I get presents on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which is always cool because you and your brother have that twin competitive mindset where everything is a competition. I love you two so much and I dream of seeing you two graduating, getting married, and giving me grandkids, though you tell me that I’m going too fast. Many people ask me how I did it, and I just respond, “When your alone and with lives depending on you, you have to do whatever it takes. It’s the only option.”

[Rosa is Cristian’s mother.]