We all know that life gets really hectic when you have kids. Even one child can make your life infinitely busier and more difficult to manage! But when you make the decision to have children, you're more or less ready for the challenge. You've decided to take on this gargantuan task and do it to the best of your abilities, no matter what life throws your way. The good, the bad, and the very bad - it's all part of the journey.
However, sometimes you're thrown onto this wild ride with no warning or preparation, and you're left with the choice: pass on it, or step up and take on the weight of the world on your shoulders. After tragedy struck her family, 20-year-old Samantha Rodriguez stepped up in the most amazing way, and found herself being mom and dad to her five younger siblings. This young woman deserves all the parenting and sister medals in the whole world.
At 20 years old, Samantha should be attending college or working on her career, spending time with her friends, and having all those fun and amazing life experiences that we had in our early 20's. Instead, she's packing lunches, helping with homework, making meals, and working nights to make ends meet for her five siblings: Destiny, 7, Bella, 9, Michael, 12, Brenda, 14, and Milagros, 16. Samantha is the oldest of the Rodriguez siblings, but instead of offering support and advice as the big sister, she's mom, dad, and everything in between.
The family tragically lost both their parents to cancer - mom Lisa Smith died in 2013 of cervical cancer, and dad Alexander Rodriguez died of lymphoma three years later. Once Samantha realized that no one in her family could take in all six kids, she decided to do everything in her power to keep her family together. Says Samantha, "There was no way that I was going to let us be split up".
Samantha was only 17 when the kids were orphaned, so their grandmother Lourdes became their legal guardian. But arthritis prevents her from playing a more active role in the younger kids' lives, so Samantha is in the process of taking over legal guardianship. She works nights as a waitress to help make ends meet, but the family does get a lot of support from the community. Last year, the local sheriff's station helped make Christmas happen in the Rodriguez household, and earlier this year anonymous donors came together to buy Samantha a car.
The family also has a current GoFundMe that has raised more than $65,000 to help out. Samantha is saving as much money as she can so the family can move into a bigger house, and so she can pay for college for herself and her younger siblings. She'd also like to take the whole family on a trip to Disney World at some point. Not many adults would be able to step up and do what Samantha has done, and we are blown away by her dedication to her family. We wish them best!