39: Breaking the Cycle

39: Breaking the Cycle

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Breaking the Cycle

Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different.

~Katherine Mansfield

Dropping out of high school and becoming a single mom by the time I was eighteen years old was certainly not the dream I had for myself as a little girl, but that was the hand that I was dealt. I don’t think I ever realized what a difficult journey it would be trying to become a successful adult while also raising a child.

As a young girl, I experienced sexual abuse as well as parents who battled an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Once I reached my teenage years, I found myself alone and becoming my own parent. By the time I had my son in 1989, I was depressed, 110 pounds overweight, and a high school dropout with no self-esteem. I could not even hold a job. By the time I was twenty-one, I had my second child, a daughter, but still struggled with obesity, depression and a poor work ethic. I knew I wanted a better life for my kids and for myself but I just could not find the motivation within myself to get us there. By the time I was twenty-six, I got a job at a hotel and had finally found a place that gave me the opportunity to grow and learn and start to feel like I was worth something. I was there for six years and had been promoted four times to be second in charge.

Today I am the General Manager of a fifteen-million-dollar company, have been named one of the Best 50 Women in Business in Pennsylvania, a top forty business professional under the age of forty, and have lost 140 pounds. My proudest moment was in May of 2007 when I officially graduated from high school at the age of thirty-seven.

How has all this affected my life as a woman and a mother? I have broken the cycle! My kids have watched me work very hard to grow as a person, a wife and a mother. They have seen firsthand what hard work, passion and dedication can bring into your life. My son is now twenty and has completed his first two years of college. I am so proud of where he is in his life. He is a hard-working, bright, funny, well-rounded young man and watching him grow, learn and become his own individual has been scary, wonderful and exciting all at the same time. My daughter is sixteen and is strong-willed and outspoken just like I am. I hope that I have taught her how to love herself more than anyone else will and to never settle for anything less than what will make her very happy.

My kids have been the motivators in my life. I worked so hard because I wanted them to have a role model that they could look up to. But I also wanted to show them that the blessings in your life are something you need to give back to others and that people are not defined by the mistakes they have made but by the content of their character. Being a mom is more than just feeding, clothing and providing a roof over your children’s heads. They are empty books that we fill throughout their lives and you can never erase the pages.

I felt the need to show my kids the importance of giving back to others who are not as fortunate as we are. I started mentoring other kids, young people who lost their way and were dropping out of school, and young girls who have had babies in their teenage years and just need an understanding ear. I am also a mentor to women living in homeless shelters and transitional housing, teaching them life skills as well as work ethic and job interviewing techniques. In addition to all of this, I sit on three corporate boards and countless other committees. Somehow, in my crazy life, I still find the time to go home every evening, make dinner for my family and spend time with my kids.

When you have a love and a passion for your life and your children, you find the time to do it all. No complaining, no feeling sorry for yourself. I am now blessed not only with my two amazing children, but also with a loving marriage to their father, and a network of people who can say that I have touched their lives in some way.

~Aimée Urban

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