Over the Thanksgiving holiday I gave a lot of thought to what I’m thankful for. Of course, I’m thankful to have been able to spend time with my family, to be at Scripps, and to have the amazing opportunities I’ve stumbled across in recent years. I’m thankful for modern medicine, my running shoes, the fact that I even have a job. If you count your blessings, you realize there’s a lot more to be thankful for than the things people usually say.
Most of all, I believe I should give all of my thanks to my mom. She has worked tirelessly to put me where I am today, and her dedicated and relentless efforts have definitely shown. We didn’t always get along (especially not in high school!) but she has always, always been there for me. So here’s a list of things I think she should be recognized for.
1. She put me through a private college preparatory school.
This alone is a huge accomplishment, and a privilege I’m lucky to have had. My high school was difficult. Often I hated it, because I felt that I did not belong there, or I didn’t have any friends. A few times, I begged to be transferred to a public school where I could be with people more like my socioeconomic class. But my mom never let me do that. And even though it was hard, I believe it was entirely, one hundred percent worth it. I’m at Scripps because I did well in high school, and I’m doing well academically because of what my school taught me about hard work and time management.
2. She taught me that hard work can help you, but efficient work is better.
My mom required a lot of me. She knew I was smart, she knew I had the capability to make A grades, and she made sure I knew that she knew! Even when I thought I was “trying” it always seemed like she felt I could do better. She worked with me to get myself organized- a feat that I am not sure a lesser woman could have accomplished. Once I was able to actually find my homework, I started getting better and better in school. Focusing became easier, and I stopped losing things all the time. Now I’m proud to say that a lot of my friends think I’m super organized- when the truth is it takes a lot of effort to stay that way.
3. She always wanted me to be happy.
It’s easy to forget that success doesn’t equal happiness. It sure helps, but my mother always encouraged me to try new things and pursue the activities I loved. When I decided I wanted to take on theatre, she wholeheartedly encouraged me to pursue it- not only as a pastime, but as a passion! Even now, she’s so supportive. I’m playing rugby now, which confounds the living daylights out of her (and she says she wishes I wouldn’t play), but she still gives me sound advice as a massage therapist- telling me that maybe I should try developing my back muscles, for example, or helping me on my form for squats. Now, I pursue my own happiness without a second glance- after all, if I’m happy, I have already succeeded.
4. She modeled what a strong, independent, resourceful woman looks like.
Through my childhood, my family had some hard times. My father’s business went through a rough period, we couldn’t support the lifestyle we wanted, and a whole host of other challenges followed us. But my mom was always optimistic, always strong, and always looking for opportunity. She has so many interests. Despite our challenges (every family has them) she kept pursuing her own hobbies- from making stained glass, to gardening, to painting- and tried to turn them into profitable opportunities. She worked for a few years as a florist, learning how to make gorgeous bouquets (she still makes all of the holiday arrangements for family gatherings). She worked at a bridal shop, fitting brides with their dream dress. She planned gardens for friends. She went to school for massage therapy, graduated, and now works as a therapeutic massage therapist with devoted clients who see her every week (though I avoid her massages because deep-tissue massage HURTS!!). I absolutely idolize the fact that she can turn an interest into something profitable, but still always seems to have time to spend with her family.
5. She inspires me.
On Thursday before we had our gigantic Thanksgiving, my mom did something that surprised all of us. She had never run an entire mile in her life before she began training for a 5k, but eight weeks ago she decided to start. I would get weekly updates as to how long or fast she ran (up a hill, no less) and hung on her words. I was so proud of her that she was even attempting it. So when I flew home to celebrate the holiday, I didn’t really expect that she would successfully run a 5k Turkey Trot. I didn’t expect that she would finish under 40 minutes on her first one. I didn’t expect that she would do it all in below-freezing weather. But she did! And I ran it with her. We held hands crossing the finish line. It was a blast and reminded me that no matter what, nothing is impossible.