As it is International Women’s Day, I thought I’d write about the most amazing woman I have the pleasure of knowing, my mom. While she was and is an extraordinary mom, that doesn’t come close to encompassing how incredible she is as a person. My mom is one of the smartest, most compassionate, and most intuitive people I know. She looks at a situation and can figure out what needs to be done to improve it. She is always working towards everything and everyone being the best possible. She refuses to accept injustice because she firmly believes that we, as a people, are better than that.
When I was dealing with school issues, she was at the front of the fight to get me a safe and high-quality education. She realized before I did that safe was the far more important of the two. I could supplement school with books at home, but there was no work around for my safety. My parents (and my dad will get his own profile later as he is just as amazing) loved and love me and my sister through the best and worst moments of our lives. In my darkest moments, my mom was there to cry with me. In my best moments, she was there to celebrate with me. I was shown what love – total, complete, and unconditional love – looks like.
She has that love not just for her daughters, but every student that ever had the pleasure to be in her classroom or school. She never seemed to have 2 children, it has always been more like 80. All of her students had her support and concern unconditionally. Even when she wasn’t being loved back, she never gave up on their goodness and wonder. Some people see middle school girls as a headache, she sees them as a gift. She doesn’t see the frustration, but the potential inside each of them to make a difference.
When the opportunity arrived for her to help build a school from scratch, she saw not fear, but a chance to help girls bloom into their authentic selves. I remember being scared for her, but if she felt that she never showed it to me. After the school’s success, she never changed her focus from the students and making sure that they were in a safe environment where they could learn. She would win awards and didn’t tell people about them, but if one of her students had a successful moment she would be the first one to share that. Learning to her doesn’t only mean math and writing, although there is plenty of that. She sees learning as a process of being introduced to one’s own self. It doesn’t end during school, but that’s the ideal place for it to begin.
If I’m stuck on a problem or having a bad day with the girls’ education, I ask myself ‘what would mom do.’ That’s generally the best answer. My husband calls me a paladin, but I learned it all from her. She doesn’t see a tantruming 3-year-old as the tantrum (like I too often do), but as a small and vulnerable child trying to work out something that is too big for their understanding of emotions to handle. As I said, she always sees the best in all of us.
My goal is to be half the woman she is. I figure that if I accomplish that, I’ll be twice the woman most people are. I don’t expect to succeed. I don’t think that I can be the person she is. But, watching her it gives me hope. Hope for people in general and hope for myself. Hope that the world will become a nicer place for everyone. Hope that my children will grow up in a better world. That is the sign of a great person, they inspire something wonderful in others. That’s her. She inspires everyone who meets her. I am blessed to be her daughter, and thankful every day to know her.