Edna is off today on a well-deserved holiday so I am stepping in to share excerpts from my speech "Five Women Who Shaped Me." As you can see, today's selection is Part One.
Several years ago, I was invited to speak to an audience of women; to share my personal story, the path that brought me to where I am today … family, mistakes, triumphs, and expectations... in particular, I was asked to share who inspired me, mentored me and made me crazy!
I spoke about five women who shaped me; today's episode is about the first woman who shaped me - my mother.
My mother raised me to believe that I could be and do anything I put my mind to.
“From those to whom much is given, much will be expected”. That was her mantra and she never missed an opportunity to tell me that I had been given much:
a good brain,
a complete body including all my fingers and toes,
a good education,
parents who loved me,
a roof over my head …
Even before I went to school I had mastered the art of multi-tasking; as the eldest of six, I was expected to:
wipe sticky hands and faces,
and teach my siblings how to tie their shoes … above all, I was to set a good example.
My mother taught me to look around, see what needs to be done, and do it!
In kindergarten, I was sent home with a note from the teacher pinned to my sweater. This was a shameful thing. The teacher wanted my mother to tell me not to help the other children get dressed.
Apparently, I was tying shoe laces, zipping zippers, helping with boots and hats and
mittens – exactly what I was expected to do at home.
The teacher was concerned that the other children would not learn to dress themselves. I was concerned we would never get outside for recess!
My mother explained that there are different rules for different situations.
I stopped helping. And, some days we did not get outside for recess.
My mother taught me to speak up for myself and to fight my own battles.
When my name was not called on the list of children to compete in the Town Track and Field meet, I complained to my mother. She told me to:
show up - march up to the school and get there early
dress the part - in white shirt and red shorts – school colours –
provide the evidence - pin my third place school ribbon to my shirt – the proof that I qualified to go - and
get on the bus with the other competitors.
And I did. My mother did not go with me. I was nicely 6 years old.
I am sure you can see how I came to:
Be fearless, to be like a Bumble Bee who doesn't know they are not supposed to be able to fly.
Speak up and fight my own battles.
A modus operandi of "See problem, fix problem." (Sometimes I still get caught up in fixing problems that don't want to be fixed!)
Next week, I will tell you about the second woman who shaped me.