#BalanceForBetter. Today is International Women’s Day. A day where world citizens are called upon to stand up for gender equality across the globe. A day where we all celebrate the economic, cultural, political and social achievements of women for more than 100 years. What great achievements there have been! I could write about any of those fantastic things. I could write about hundreds of women who have achieved great things… but my mind keeps coming back to one.
The first woman to impact my life is my mom. As a kid, I learned from my mom that women can do anything they set their minds to.
Mom was a Stay-at-Home Mom most of my childhood. She was the epitome of the Air Force Spouse, helping raise 4 kids with low income while we traveled the world from Air Base to Air Base. (and before anyone says anything…I”m not in any way knocking the military. I loved my time as a military brat!). But mom did a lot with very little. Feeding & clothing 4 kids while living on the Germany economy with a lower enlisted salary is no easy task. Don’t worry about what others have. Do with what you have now. These are things we learned from Mom.
I learned that birthday parties are most fabulous when you make fun games to play! My siblings and I were masters at Kick the Can and Chinese Jump Rope. My Mom (and my Dad) instilled in us that Family is Everything and Making Memories are Important. At the time us kids would sometimes get annoyed at our Dad for taking so many photos. But Mom’s diligent cataloging of those thousands of 35mm slides is now some of my most treasured possessions. Looking back through those photos now I see how much Mom really taught me…and how many memories we made as a family.
While I do have some memories of life on our farm in Ohio, our apartment in Biloxi and our house and apartment in North Carolina…most of my memories start around the time we moved to Germany. I was in 3rd grade. I will never forget my mom busting down the door to our apartment with a crowbar! You see, our front door locked when it shut. When mom asked my dad what she should do if we ever got locked out while he was at work, he told her to bust the door down. So she did! I was holding my brother (who was still in diapers) as my sisters and I marveled at this wonder woman busting a hole in the door with a crowbar. Strength. Determination. No Fear. That is what we learned that day.
Or what about the time we were in our Volkswagon Van on our way to the Alps for a family camping trip and the clutch breaks. After puttering up the mountainside in 1st gear, Dad dropped us off at the campground while he took the van to the VW dealer to get it fixed. Mom had us kids help her set up our campsite and fix dinner. I’m sure we didn’t have the money to pay for a costly repair. No sense complaining about things you can not change. That is what we learned that day.
While divorce is usually not associated with positive memories, I do have a positive one of my mom following my parent’s divorce. I remember my Mom moving into her own apartment. The dresser that she put together, sanded, stained and finished with her own two hands is in my bedroom today. I remember seeing the pride and accomplishment on her face. Women can do anything. Confidence. Self Reliance. No Fear. That is what I learned that day.
Mom started working full time when I was in high school. I could see the pride and self-accomplishment as she made new friends and did things outside our home. She was becoming her own person, not just a wife and mother. Friendships. Integrity. Contributing to society. Those are things I learned that day.
I will never forget the time my mom, my sister and I decided we should make our own jams! Mom had made jams, jellies and canned veggies for as long as I could remember. After making the traditional Strawberry & Blueberry jams, we decided we needed to make our own Wine Jelly. Cooking wine down to make jelly will, in fact, heat the alcohol so much that the steam is released in quantities that will set off your combustible gas alarm! Even when you know how to do something, you can always learn something new! and passing down your own knowledge to younger generations. That is what we learned that day!
I could keep writing forever. My mom has taught me lessons about life, living, and serving others while remaining true to yourself. She taught me how to be a mom. She is teaching me how to be a grandmother (hoping I still have a few years to put those lessons to practice!). Mom has taught me that life is what you make it. I am who I am because my Mom is my Mom. On this 109th International Women’s Day, I salute the first woman to impact my life. I love you, Mom.
About the author: Lori Keefer is an entrepreneur, Jerry’s other half, avid bird watcher, band mom, lover of a good cup of hot tea, and your guide in personal branding photography. The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author. You can connect with her on her personal website, her business website, or on Facebook.