It has become a sort of running joke in my family that my mother doled out life lessons about the importance of a stable relationship and the challenges of teenage pregnancies since I was four years old and trapped in the car on the way to preschool. Although her technique is questionable, I actually learned a lot on these car rides and continue to learn not only from her lectures but from her example. Here are some of the most important lessons I learned from my mother:
1. That being bossy is a positive thing. Most people would characterize my mom as a bossy woman, and by most people I mean almost everyone that she has ever met. I have always admired and been rather proud of that side of my mom because she gets shit done! I mean it’s obvious in our household that my mom is supreme leader of the universe but there’s something kind of heroic in watching her command a room of her peers.
2. To value family above all else. Because no matter how much shit happens or who walks in and out of our lives, this family will always be there for each other. I know that because you, mom, have always been there for me and I also know you’re not going anywhere. I seriously feel privileged to be in our family because we are the most hilarious and loving team that ever took on the world.
3. What a stable and healthy relationship looks like. I guess dad gets some of the credit for this but only a little bit, because I see your relationship as an example of how to be an independent woman yet a devoted wife at the same time. You never lose sight of who you are despite having combined your life with another person. Although I haven’t figured out how to do that yet, your relationship with dad is what I consider “normal” and the standard which I set for myself in my relationships.
4. How to think of myself as beautiful. As I mentioned before, my mom has repeated over and over again that I’m beautiful, almost like a mantra. She always says it in a “DUHH!” tone, like my beauty is the most obvious fact in the world. Although that irritates me to no end, because I’m obviously not like Kate Upton or something, I’ve come to really appreciate it. I honestly believe that for young girls a major source of confidence comes from our mothers, because if our moms don’t think we look like Kate Upton then who will?
5. That patience is a virtue. Or, in other words, a virtue that neither of us have… But I’m working on it.
6. How to be driven and motivated. You have never been afraid to take risks and have always known how turn failure into motivation. You showed me that no dream is out of reach and if I work hard enough I can turn any goal into a reality. That’s why I applied to college a year early and why I won a grant for a charity at sixteen. Pretty much any and every goal I set for myself is because of you. You showed me that I can do anything I set my mind to.
7. To have respect for my body. It’s not that you specifically gave me a talk on body image issues and women (although that sounds like something you would do), you just never emphasized the importance of having a “good” or “ideal” body, as long as I was healthy, you didn’t care. I didn’t know I had a “big” bum until I was 17 and it became a topic of discussion in the school locker room. You just always valued my intelligence and continuously repeated how beautiful I was, because you didn’t make a big deal of my body’s flaws or perfections, I learned not to think of it as a big deal.
8. How to deal with male executives who think they can bully women. Every night when you come home and rant about your day at the office, I’m not just listening to be polite. I seriously admire the way you don’t back down to these men and I think it’s adorable that you have no idea how intimidating you can be. Believe me I’m taking notes for my future entrance into the business world.
9. That there is something honorable in losing and then finding yourself again. So I know I say I don’t remember much of my grandmother’s death but I actually remember quite a lot, I just don’t bring it up because I hate to see you cry. I remember watching you lose your mother, I know you felt completely powerless to do anything about it and I know you were frustrated and sad and completely at a loss. I have a vivid image in my mind of you sitting on our kitchen floor crying and needless to say I know you kinda lost your mind during that time. But I recognize the woman you are today as strong and brave because you found your way out of that grief and learned how to carry on.
10. I learned how to be a woman, with all the crap that comes with it and all the beautiful things too. I learned how to hold my head of high and be proud of who I am. I learned what the real meaning of beautiful is and I continue learn what it feels like to be loved to the moon and beyond.