If inspiration could be defined by one person…
My mother is an immigrant from Lebanon; she came to the United States in the 1970s escaping the civil war that dominated her country. She is the middle child of six, and one of five daughters; crowded for a young girl adjusting to the cultural shock moving from the Middle East to south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Not knowing much of the language and being all around different from everyone else in her community, my mother had a tough time as a kid in school, and her home life wasn’t the best either.
She used to get bullied a lot from her peers for being foreign, and then criticized excessively at home for being a woman.
At eighteen years old, my mother moved out of her parents’ house and with little money to her name, she attended Temple University determined to create a life of her own. For the first time after graduating, my mom really got to experience the American culture and what it meant to be independent, have fun, go through some heartbreaks, and enjoy being a young woman in her mid-twenties. Although it was a struggle financially at first, my mom loved her new-found sense of independence so much that she decided to become officially nationalized as an American citizen. Giving herself a middle name to go along with her new citizenship status, my mom went on an adventure by accepting a job offer that landed her in Ohio. Not knowing anyone in the small town of Canton, away from family and friends, my mom then met my dad who also moved to Ohio for work.
They fell in love, got married, and three kids later had a house of their own. But their love didn’t last, my mom got tired of him never being home to say goodnight to us kids. She never told me before how much she went through being in a relationship with my dad, but I guess it was to protect his status as our father in our eyes. I didn’t find out until I was older that my mom put up with a lot from my dad, but she never spoke badly of him to us as kids.
So, when I was five years old, my mom filed for divorce and with her three kids she moved to a tiny shack some towns over from Canton.
For a while following the divorce my mom had to readjust going back to work and trying to finance her three toddlers. We were flat broke and I am pretty sure we ate pancakes for an entire month straight because we couldn’t afford much else to eat. My mom had holes in her work shoes, no decent clothing, and a tattered coat that barely kept her warm in the winter time, but it’s because all her money she saved was used to buy us kids everything we might need. She sacrificed so much and although we were poor at the time, I never felt that way. My mom always made us feel rich, loved, and gave us the best childhood she could possibly provide.
I thought I was so lucky that I got to eat pancakes every day but it’s because my mom made it so; she never wanted us to feel any less than anyone else.
After being forced to move to a foreign country away from what she knows, leaving the security of her parents’ house, graduating from college and moving to another foreign state, going through a rough divorce, and juggling raising three kids, my mom moved us to New Jersey and bought her own house (this time it wasn’t a shack). She was adamant about providing a secure life for us where we can grow up and have the childhood she never had. She succeeded and then some. She worked a great deal to secure our future because to her, we were (and still are) the most important people on the planet and she made sure we knew that too.
See my mother inspires me. She is a force of strength and unlimited will. She never takes breaks from being a mother. She never complains about how unfair she has had it. She is never negative or weak-minded. She emulates feminine power. Her love grows stronger every day despite all the sorrow she has undergone. She has taught me to be kinder still and to forgive those who do us harm, because even they themselves might be suffering through something. My mother has never given up on anything.
She has been through the heart of a war and still looks at life with seeing only the beauty and good in it.
One day in the winter time, she saw a homeless man shivering out on the street and took her only winter coat off her back to give it to him because she knew he needed it more than she did. She is the best grandmother to my son and because of her he is smart, caring, kind, and strong. My son has mirrored my mother in every way and that’s why I named him after her.
I’ve never known a woman that I wanted to be like more than my mother. If I ever get to be half the woman she is with all her courage and drive to make the world a better place, than I could say I left a good mark on this earth.
Do you have a mother or another very special person in your lie who inspires you? Let’s begin a conversation!