I like strong women, as you know. And in accordance with yesterday’s summer solstice, I can only speak about one woman- my mother. The summer solstice is her birthday. My mother is a strong lady. She’s the kind of lady you’d like to know (if you don’t already). She’s the kind of mom who will tell you why this isn’t a good idea while continuing to be supportive. She is a mother and a friend to all. More than once we’ve walked through the grocery store or into a shop only to have multiple young people (kids my age or younger) run up to her, want to talk to her, give her a big hug. It wouldn’t surprise me if she lends you her car (or mine) for the day just because you need a hand. Or maybe you need a place to stay? That’s what guest rooms are for, she’d say.
It’s hard for to sum up why my mom is someone worthy of the strong women category. How do you describe your mom? That’s no small task. I’ve been brainstorming what key words I think describe her. Arts, education, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, respect, absolute cheeseball.
My mom has worked for University of North Carolina School of the Arts for over 20 years in different capacities. I don’t think she picked this job because she wanted to support the arts. I think she started there because it was part time and she could be home by the time I got off the bus from school. Despite this, it has become her passion. She may be a staff member there but she is also a patron. While she might not be able to help fund your local production, she’ll put up one of your out of town stars or crew members for a few weeks while the show is up, if it will help you save a few bucks. She’ll donate cakes or cookies at the School for students to sell for fundraising. And when the curtain goes down, she’ll be that audience member who starts the applause.
As did many women of her era, she chose to get married instead of finishing her college degree. And while I don’t think she’d ever choose to change her life story, I do think that she would like to have finished school. Because of this, she has always been a loud supporter of education. She has been pursuing her own degree off and on for the last few years as time has allowed and she has always encouraged my sister and I to better ourselves with education and any other means at our disposals. As an employee UNCSA, she has always tried to help the students she encounters have meaningful experiences.
I don’t think anyone could argue that my mother is not a woman of principle. She believes strongly that how you treat other people is the most important thing. While she may not always live up to her own expectations, she strives for all her interactions with others to involve generosity, kindness, respect and when appropriate, forgiveness. My mom lost a car and a bike by lending it to someone (one got totaled, the other stolen from the temporary owner) who needed it and would do it again, without a moment’s hesitation. She is always willing to listen to those who need to vent even when she is tired. She would never dream of intentionally being disrespectful to someone else. And although, it may take a while and it may be a struggle, she strives always to forgive because letting go of such things helps her as much as it may help the other person.
My sister and I often think that she is too generous but she isn’t blind or a fool. She takes action with intention and understands the consequences. To her it is more important to give someone a chance and get taken for granted, then not to give them the chance at all.
She’s no saint. She’s a mom and does all the kinds of things that make you roll your eyes and go, “Aw, MOM!!!” in that oh my gawd, you are so embarrassing sort of way. She can be bossy and she can be wrong, but she’ll typically admit that she is or at least that she understands where you’re coming from.
I am lucky to have such a strong woman in my life to be my example. A few days ago, a friend asked me what good qualities/traits that my parents gave to me. My mother has given me an avid curiosity, a belief in the importance of family, the knowledge that only you can truly make yourself happy, the idea that art can be education in itself, to have pride in being a woman, that I should always want to better myself whether that mean exercise, education or being a better friend to others and that nothing is better than laughter and wine around a kitchen table with the people you love.
Happy Birthday Mama. I love you.