I got a ride home from school just like any other ordinary day in October of 2013. It was more than two years ago but I still remember every unpleasant moment, starting from when I walked in the door. My sister, Kaitlyn, sat on the couch in our living room yelling at her phone, who I soon found out was my mom. This wasn’t surprising for me since they had been arguing all Summer due to our move to Hawaii in June. However, what came next would shock me and scar our relationship for several years to come.
Unfortunately, many others are unable to experience the health benefits of a paid and job-secure leave policy. A single mother describes her experiences without paid leave: “Because I didn’t have paid leave after the birth of my first child, I had to go back to work within 2 weeks—using all the vacation I had to take the time off. It was a horrible experience. My son was too young for daycare, so I had to find an individual to watch him. That was not easy and very expensive.
I 'm Joanna but most people call me Jo; the "anna" got dropped when I realized I wouldn 't stay in the comfort zone any longer! I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and moved to the USA at five years old, where I adopted the "Coming to America" story. My single independent mother worked her butt off to give all three of her kids the opportunity to do and be whatever they wanted. That meant several weekends cleaning houses, painting with her, and overall just working to build character. Two decades later and I can absolutely confirm that I 'm doing exactly what I 've always dreamed of, so I thank her for the sacrifices every day.
My recent spring vacation had consisted of taking care of Helena as a mother’s helper and I had spent several weekends changing diapers, mixing formula, and watching over her brothers and sisters. After she died, I became overwhelmed with all these ideas of how she would never again giggle at my silly faces, never learn to ride a bike, let alone walk, and never take part in any childlike adventures. This unforeseeable tragedy changed my life forever.
When my older sister went off to college, I had never seen a more driven, mature and intelligent 18 year old look so terrified and reluctant to leave her home just a few states away. Caroline had spent the majority of her high school years stressed, angry and tired, holed up in her single room acing more APs than I can count with two hands. My sister knew from the time she could read that success meant getting into an Ivy, even if the price was throwing away all human contact or not. Myself, was not so sure. I had been shaped by a front-row-seat to the 24-hour shows of a hormonal workaholic—years spent listening to crying, yelling, and disturbing silences from upstairs in Caroline’s room taught me that in order to earn a college acceptance,
My bags were completely packed for our upcoming trip to Charleston, South Carolina. I had been waiting for this seemingly perfect trip for the whole summer. When we arrived at our cabin, it was less than what we expected; much less. The private cottage was extremely outdated. When we first walked in, you could hear my mother shriek after she spotted a cockroach near the fireplace.
By this time I haven’t been to Seaworld yet. I begged my mom to take me to Seaworld for my birthday. Seaworld was in San Diego which was two hours away. Anyway, my mom surprised me and took me to Seaworld for my birthday. I was the happiest 10-year-old ever.
February 5, 2007, Houston Texas, it was 4:20 am when the alarm when off. I was spending the last moments with my family before embarking in the most challenging adventure of my young life yet; I was 20. The rainy morning accentuated the heavy feeling of departure. I gathered my emotions, thoughts and my single luggage, and proceeded to kiss my mother good-bye. She barely moved, the pain of seeing her youngest son leaving without knowing when would be the next time she would see him was unbearable.
Can I stay with grandpa? Do I have to go?” I said. “We are going to Miami and meeting up with your sister and dad” she said. Her hazel eyes filled with happiness and joy because we would be a family again. I had been apart from my sister for a year and my father for 6 months.