I see a lot of blogs talk about the people that they admire, and I’ve always loved the idea. I’ve made a list of the people I’ve always looked up to and there are some big names on there. Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Ella Woodward… I could write about any of them and the reasons they inspired me. But I haven’t managed to really write something that truly affects me. If I’m going to talk about someone who inspired me to become the person I am, and still inspires me, there is only one person that stands out. My mom.
There’s a joke in our family that’s stuck with us for years. My mom failed gym in high school. We laugh about it now because she’s come a long way since then. But still, how do you fail gym? All you have to do is show up! School wasn’t her top priority when she was young, and after high school she didn’t go to college. She worked and lived with friends, and from what it sounds like, had that house everyone congregated at. We tease her and say she had the ‘party house’ and she denies it with a smile. It was in this timeframe she met my dad. They were married for a few years before they decided to have a family.
Neither of my parents had post-secondary educated when they got pregnant, but with a family looming, my dad decided to go back to school and my mom became a stay at home mom and wife. She supported my dad through school by managing the house and raising what turned into three children.
My childhood was wonderful, and I think both my parents worked extremely hard to raise three relatively well-adjusted creative and happy children. With my dad working and going to school, I never remember a time he was absent. They made sure that he took time out of every day to be with us. My mom worked extremely hard every day, and I have lots of memories of activities and events she found to do for free because money was always tight. She built a community around us and there was nothing we didn’t experience.
Things changed when all three of us were teenagers. I can remember her at home, sleeping in and gaining a little weight. It makes sense to me now. For years, she had a direction and a purpose, but with three surly teenagers convinced they no longer needed parents, a huge part of her life was sort of up in the air. I think it took her awhile to decide what to do, but eventually she decided to go back to school and become a teacher.
It was not easy going back to school in her 40’s. Not only did she still take care of her family, but she was in classrooms with people half her age. Studying was hard with all the sports events, band concerts and piano lessons she still took us all too. My father helped as much as he could, but he worked full time and was still the one bringing the income in. My mom worked through and finished her four-year degree, and then got into the teaching program afterward that you apparently need to actually teach kids. Sort of like a residency for doctors. Then came the years of substituting.
I don’t know if any of you have lived with a substitute teacher before, but it’s a nightmare!! Every night you don’t know if you’re going to work the next day, and you’re woken up by the phone ringing ridiculously early telling you wish random school you’re going to be at today. There was no sense of structure or certainty, and my mom taught all kinds of courses of all different grades. But she struggled through it and after a few years finally started getting longer term jobs.
Now she teaches grade five full-time, and she’s one of those teachers you hope your kids get. She cares about every single one of her students, and will go the extra mile to help them achieve what she knows they can. She stays late, goes in on weekends, volunteers for after school activities and PAC meetings. I once asked her why she agreed to become the union representative in her school because she often talked about how frustrating it was. Her answer was that her kids are all grown up and it’s really only her time she’s putting in. Most of the other teachers have young children or grandchildren to go home too, and it’s not fair that their time should be taken away from them. This is the type of person my mom is.
Going away from school for a moment, there is a more recent moment that reminded me why my mom continues to inspire me. My Nana passed away not too long ago, and her will left money to everyone. We all got a little something and it was really nice. She included everyone in her family. Unfortunately, she was too sick at the end to be aware that my cousin and his wife had broken up. My cousin is not the nicest guy in the world, and he cut his wife off with nothing. she’s not an educated woman so she struggled. They have two kids that she has trouble visiting and she’s all on own. My Nana’s will didn’t include her by name, instead it when to their ‘family’. My cousin took the money and gave her nothing. My mom told me she was going to take a small portion of her own money and give it to my cousins wife. I was surprised at first, and my first reaction was to say ‘why is it your responsibility to give up your own money?’. My mother very calmly said that Nana would never have left her out of the will, and no one else in the family was going to stand up and to the right thing, so she was. She was going to share her money because it was the right thing to do.
This is the type of person I want to be. It’s hard sometimes. My mom has always thought of others and until the last few years, I’ve been selfish. Every day I’m working on being more positive and looking at the world differently. My story about a Funny Case of Instant Karma from the other day is an example of how I’m trying to change, but it’s a lot of work to change the way your mind looks at things. I look at my mom and know what I can be like her, and I want to be like her.
We joke sometimes in our family about my moms ‘care packages’. It started when I moved to the city and was struggling financially. I would go out to see both her and my dad and end up going home with a bag of salmon steaks from Costco. It morphed through the years and now I always make not of what she gives me. Once I got almonds, toothpaste, coconut oil, ziploc bags and dish rags. Another time I got toilet paper, Windex, rubber gloves, chia seeds and soba noodles. They’re always different and full of stuff I always use. This is her way of taking care of us. I’m doing well enough now that I can buy my own toothpaste and toilet paper, but that’s not the point. She wants to help out in any way she can. She goes to Costco for the deals, but because she’s only one person she can’t get through it all on her own, so she separates it all for her three children and takes just what she needs. Her new trend is vegetables. She has a massive at-home garden that is doing so well this summer they can’t eat the food fast enough. Once a week I get a huge basket of veggies and herbs. I haven’t bought much food in the last two months at all.
I could tell you a hundred stories of why my mom is the person who gets my ‘Most Inspiration Award’, but I think this gives you an idea of why I chose her. My mom is a beautiful person that I strive to be like. When people tell me I’m ‘just like my mom’ I take it as the biggest compliment.
Who is your most inspirational person? I invite you to tell me about them in the comments below 🙂