I tried really hard to make this post about anyone other than my mom. I was afraid it would sound repetitious. There are other women who have advised me and guided me over the years, but if I don’t start with my mom, all my other stories will have no foundation. Mom taught me to listen, seek counsel and respect experience.
I looked up “mentor” in the dictionary. That’s the first time Google Dictionary, that verbose king of words, answered my question with one word: Advisor. In search of something deeper, easier to expound upon, I hit up the thesaurus: trusted advisor, coach, tutor, trainer, counselor, consultant.
From first grade, Mom was my teacher. Any teacher’s aim is to see her students learn to read, write, add and subtract. Mom’s impact went much deeper. She taught me sacrifice – while her peers were flaunting established careers or community recognition, she was lesson planning for three restless pupils. While her peers lunched for a brief hour over crisp, restaurant salads and ice tea, she spent nearly an hour simply getting baloney sandwiches made while listening to recitations, explaining math problems and conducting oral spelling tests.
Mom advised me to “Study to show [myself] approved unto God, a workman who need not be ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15). That verse was stitched into the cover of the Bible she opened every morning. My sisters and I understood that God’s word was the single most important thing for all of life. And Mom made it clear that it honored God for us to devote ourselves to scholastic learning.
Mom counseled me through more than a decade of anorexia. She sat with me through therapy sessions, modeled compassion and learned when to let go.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this mentor/mentee relationship, is that although I learned much as I sat at her feet, on her lap and in my desk; Mom’s words and actions reverberate in my life today. I often call Mom for encouragement. But I don’t need to. Usually, I know exactly what she’s going to say. Her influence became a part of me – the most beautiful part of me.