By Jessie Stracener
Confession: I used to loathe this time of year. This time when everyone else was getting ready to celebrate their awesome mothers by giving them flowers and jewelry with the birth stones of the children they suffered to labor…it made me uncomfortable and that made me anxious which in turn usually made me mad. My own mother and I have an almost nonexistent relationship. She was not very good at being a parent, which is not entirely her fault, but it strained things between us long ago. Add to that the fact that my relationship with my mother-in-law isn’t that great either and you get me, loathing this celebration of mothers.
It occurred to me just within the last couple of years that while the women in my life who are supposed to fill that role either cannot or don’t, I have had great mothers and I should honor that and them. In light of that here are a few of the ladies who helped me to get to where I am today and a few who inspire me every day.
My earliest memories of Barbara are from when I was 11 years old. I worked with her son at a local Pizza Hut for a few hours on Monday nights painting faces and making balloon animals for their “kids night”. I realize that normal 11-year-olds don’t have jobs…but my life was never normal and that is a story for a different day. That is how I came to know her family. My very best friend, the best friend I have ever had, or may ever have, was her daughter Savannah. Not all along of course; at first I thought Savannah was weird and entirely too energetic. Ms. Barbara saw through a lot of the barriers that I put up around myself. She gave me a place to stay when I needed it (which was often), food in my tummy (which was rare), and a calm rational, adult voice that I did not get anywhere else. She provided the only stable home that I knew as a child.
My aunt Cynthia was not really my aunt. She married my great uncle when I was a wee little girl. Luckily for me my great uncle loved my grandmother, who loved me, and I got to see all of them quite a bit. Cynthia opened her heart up to me, but perhaps more importantly she gave me a good example of strength through adversity. She also introduced me to the oldest friend I have, her son, who continues to be a steady influence in my life.
My aunt Kathy is probably the most awesome aunt that any girl could ask for. She took me fishing when I was a girl. She would get up at the crack of dawn when I was bugging the crap out of her and take me down to the country store, order sandwiches, and then take me fishing. She listened to my struggles and triumphs and always watched over me. She never had kids of her own, but she is like my mother in all the ways that count. Even though we live a few states apart now she is still just a phone call away.
Finally, my friend and mentor, Amy, deserves more thanks than I will ever be able to give her. She has helped me though all of the adult trials and tribulations that women in their early twenties face. She also gave the best advice and was a shoulder to cry on when my brother and sister came to live with me. She has been a constant voice of reason though crappy relationship, my own parents failures, and my personal screw ups.
Today I am surrounded by strong women, I work in an office full of them. My associate rector is a woman who always has an ear to listen if I need to talk. The deacon at my church is a woman who inspires me to keep being me despite what others might think. The women I work with at Idyll-Wilde patiently teach me and praise my efforts and give of themselves in such a way as to leave me in awe of them. My sister, even through our ups and downs, is a giving and loving person who inspires me. Not all of these women are mothers but they nurture me, and they nurture each other. Thank you ladies. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.
I am a happily married 24-year-old woman living in the heart of the south. By day I work primarily with children or doing some sort of clerical work. I’m an ace with excel spreadsheets and bandaging “boo boos”. I’ve had nearly every job you could think of and I have enjoyed most of them, from working at a museum, library, Microbiology lab, and a Music studio to being a birthday clown, a tutor, and pretty much anything else you can think of. I love to sew, cross stitch, embroider, and work with beads and wire to make awesome trees. I will try crafting anything at least once. I also love to read. I will read nearly anything. I also like to cook when I have the time.