Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Role Models: My Mom

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post. I found everyone's comments to be really interesting, and they caused me to think even more on this topic. My mother-in-law pointed out something I thought was important to note - that women's stories haven't really been told or recorded as men's have. Just thinking about it in a religious context, for all the many many stories we have about men in the Bible or the Book of Mormon, there are only a handful about women. And even then they mostly still relate to men - the women's relationships to a son or a husband. I'm not saying that's wrong, and maybe there's a good reason for it, but I do wish that there were more stories about women in our history and in our religious texts.

Another thing my mother-in-law said was that now with the internet, more and more stories are being told. I think this can be something truly amazing. We now have so many ordinary (extraordinary, really) women, living their lives and sharing their thoughts, talents, and lives with other women (and men). This is an incredible opportunity for us all to see the strength, resilience, power, love, and overall awesomeness of women. I think this is something that is beneficial to men and women, boys and girls. This isn't about competition, I don't think it should be at least, but it's about celebration. I can celebrate the strengths of women without denying the strengths of men.

So, that being said, I think a role model should be someone who, when you think about what you want your life to be like and who you want to be, you can look to as an example. This person models the role you want to have. See? A role model. With that in mind, I'd really love to tell you all a little about the person I most want to be like. And, since you read the title of this post, you know that that person is my mom.

(If I want to be like my mom when I "grow up," you know at least I have the looks department covered. :) ) Basically, as I thought about this topic, I really had to think, well what role do I see myself in, what role do I want to play in life, and how do the women I know, or see in the news or on tv, exemplify this role? I thought of a billion things, and this post could go on forever if I listed all the awesome ways my mom inspires me, so I just chose five. Five things my mom is, that I want to be:

Smart: I'll admit it. I want to be smart. I want to be intelligent and educated and learned and, most importantly, wise. My mom is all that. She is always thinking, and she is one of my favorite people to talk to about a topic in the news or about something I (or she) read. She has a bachelor's degree - actually two, I think, because she graduated before she had kids, then later went back to school so that she could get a different teaching degree to pursue her life's passion of teaching. She is on her way to a masters' degree right now - and it's no easy thing, since she's also a full time teacher.

Resourceful: My mom is the queen of being resourceful. She could always look in the cupboard and the fridge and pull together a delicious meal out of nowhere. She always made all our Halloween costumes out of random wardrobe elements, things she could find at the BX, and crafty use of makeup. And I always, always pitied the other kids for not having as cool a costume as mine. Since my dad was in the military, we were always in a new place with new challenges, and Mom always rose to meet them. I was always so proud of my mom because she wasn't a complainer. She always found the best in wherever we were assigned and made us feel privileged to live the life we did. She made things work in foreign countries, in military housing and on military bases, and she made an awesome life for her kids.

Loving: As I mentioned before, my dad was career military (only retired at the very end of last year). For us, this meant a lot of moving around and a lot of starting over. Mom always found friends and did most of the legwork for us to find friends. I think we all know how hard it can be to make a new friend, but for my mom, it's usually not. She meets someone in the grocery store, strikes up a conversation, and next thing you know it they're friends for life. I think this is mostly because of my mom's capacity to love people. She doesn't care what choices you've made in life, what station you are in life, what you choose to do with your life - she just loves people, and people feel that. We used to tease my mom for "flirting" with everyone - gate guards, mostly, but also guys working the drive-thru or waiters. What I've come to realize lately though, is that Mom is just nice to people - to everyone, guys and girls - it just sometimes seems like she's flirting. (Ok, that being said, she was definitely flirting with Raul at McDonald's, and it may have had something to do with him reserving the best beanie babies for her. :P)

Adventurous: Sometimes I can be pretty ho-hum. I like my life to stay neat and simple and not go too far out of my comfort zone. But then I look at my mom, and the life that she has had, and I am inspired to be and do more. A little story - A few years ago, my dad was asked to be the Air Force attache in Greece. To prepare to go, he had to take all sorts of courses in language, culture, and various other aspects of the job, including evasive driving. Yeah, like spy stuff - driving inches away from other cars, forcing your car out of a trap, and trying to lose a tail. Spouses could also take the classes, if they wanted. Mom jumped on that opportunity and learned it all, side by side with my dad. She could have taken a backseat, decided that it was more my dad's thing and just kept doing what she did. But she saw an opportunity to do something awesome. Heck, just saying yes to going to all the places she did with my dad in his career - that shows that my mom is adventurous.

A dedicated Mom: The role that I've always wanted in life, that I've always known I would have, is that of a mother. No matter what crap her kids put her through, and boy do we ever put her through crap sometimes, my mom has been there and has been doing everything in her power to help get us through our hard times.
She taught us everything we needed to know to be successful adult and happy people, even when we had our ears and hearts closed to her lessons. But I think the best thing about my mom as a mom, is that we always knew she loved us. That's the kind of mom I want to be to my kids, and the kind of mom I know I can be, because I had, and have, such an awesome example.

There are so many other things my mom is that I want to be - funny, thoughtful, crafty, talented, passionate, well-read, beautiful, but wow, that was really hard keeping it even that short. I hope that that was interesting to someone, but if not, it was really great for me to think about and write and put down for posterity. Going back to the whole idea that brought up this post - the idea that girls didn't have as many role models as boys, well, I think stories of real women can only help in that. If we tell our children (both boys and girls) about their family and ancestors, they can draw on real experiences and real lives in deciding who they want to be. I mean, wouldn't it be so much better for a girl to decide that she wanted to grow up to be like Great-Grandma Patti, rather than someone like Ke$ha? (Don't get me started on female pop stars... this post will never end.) And wouldn't it be wonderful for little boys to idolize Great-Grandpa Dave, rather than LeBron James or Chris Brown?

So, there's my little plug for family history (don't you just love how one thought leads to another?) - record the lives of your family, tell family stories around the dinner table, talk about the people you know who are amazing and awesome. It can only help our girls and boys to know more about who they want to be.


Allison said...

Just to add my thoughts. I've been thinking about women role models in the church recently as well. And I thought it was very convenient that these next visiting teaching lessons are going to be about the history of Relief Society.

raemirriam said...

You're actually well on your way to being adventerous, I'll tell you about it next time I come over. And you're a great mom. and you're increadably smart...there's a theme here. I think you are doing a good job at accomplishing the things you admire in your role modle (Hi charity's Mom!).

and gosh is your little man cute. I love the pic with the scriptures, and in that first close up his eyes just blow you away.

love ya,

Patti Johansen said...

thank you.
i love you, sweetheart. so glad you know it!
isaac is one of the cutest 6 kids on the planet!

Charity said...

Allison - I was thinking that, too! I think it is awesome for women to get to know more of the female heroines of church history - I hope a few stories like that come out of these next v.t. messages.

Shirley said...

I think this is awesome! I love what you said about recording it too. I want to help write a book for my grandparents, full of stories about their lives. I think our kids and grandkids will have lots to read because of blogging. I'm a terrible journal writer, but blogging helps since I kind of write for others. Anyway, I love your blog and you're doing awesome!

Christian and Jennifer said...

Hey, sweet girl: I just stumbled upon this blog and I'm so glad I did! What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful mother. How grateful I am to call her mom, too. Heavenly Father sure was good to me when he handed out the mothers.

George and Ruth said...

In the introductory to a book that your husband's great grandfather, wrote about his grandfather, Franklin D. Richards, were the words from the Rev. Orville Dewey "they who do not remember and revere their ancestors who have done worthy deeds are not likely to leave a posterity that will be worthy of being remembered".


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