My Strong Heritage

I have a love/hate relationship with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and the like. I don’t like how exclusive they are. For Mother’s Day especially, I don’t like how a culture that usually treats women, mothers in particular, as “less than,” takes one day to say “Oh yeah, moms are great,” and then goes back to sneering at them.

On the other hand, I also like any opportunity I get to show the people I love how thankful I am for them. So I’m usually torn, these sorts of holidays.

But today, I’m not torn at all. I want to sing praise not just to my mother, but to all the women in my family who have contributed to make me the person I am today. It’s the day after Mother’s Day, and the day I choose to celebrate these amazing women.

My mom. She’s getting her Master’s degree on Saturday. Her granddaughters get to watch their Oma get a degree, how amazing is that? She taught me everything I know about sewing, cooking, teaching, and more importantly, how to use my brain (OK, Dad contributed to that part as well. Don’t worry, Dad, your post will come after Father’s Day!). She taught me about sacrifice and hard work, and the importance of having dreams while keeping your practicality. She’s the best mom I could imagine.

Gram, Mom’s mother. Just as my girls get to watch their grandmother earn her degree, I can still remember going to Grammie’s college graduation. She’s tackled every challenge that comes her way with zest and determination, and her energy puts me to shame. She’d do anything for her family, except let them get away with doing less than they are capable of.

Grandma, Dad’s mom. Raised eight children and had a hand in the raising of many of her grandchildren. Kept a sense of humor up to the very end. Faced a hard life with laughter and courage. Also went to college, to become a teacher. Instilled a love for reading and love for music in all her family.

My great-grandmothers. Some of them I only really know through stories. Some of them I knew well. One of them got to meet my Joy right after she was born. One of them had a name I am proud to now carry as my own. All of them strong, independent, courageous women.

My sister. My best friend, one of the smartest people I know, with the kindest heart to match her keen wits. She’s going to get to hold her first baby this fall, and I am so excited to see her become a mom. She’s going to be as spectacular at that as she is at everything else, I know.

My aunts, great-aunts, cousins … really, the list is too long to go on. And if I get started on the women who aren’t in my family who have influenced me and contributed to the person I am today, we’d be here all day. I am so thankful for all of them. I rejoice that my daughters have such a strong heritage – and one of equally brave, smart, loving women from their dad’s side – behind them.

Not just Mother’s Day, but every day I thank God for them!

Gram meeting our Joy for the first time.

Gram meeting our Joy for the first time.

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