This is part of my 30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me series. The prompt…. ten people who have influenced me.
1. My husband – The things that I have learned (and am continuing to learn) because of this love are things that I never imagined I needed. I have learned that I don’t always have to be strong. I have learned that I don’t always have all of the answers. I have learned that depending on someone else is not always a mistake. I am learning that vulnerability is not weakness. I have learned that grace and forgiveness are gifts of freedom. I have learned about the power of prayer. I am learning more about who I am. I have learned the true meaning of unconditional love. I am learning that God’s plan for our lives doesn’t always look like we think it will…. but if we trust Him and follow Him; He will bless us beyond our imaginings.
2. My son – Before I found out I was pregnant, I was a totally different person. I was just going through the motions of life. Nothing was really important to me. I merely existed each day. Just taking up space in this world. Because of Isaiah, I turned my life around. I reconnected with God and my faith. I started making decisions based on what would create the best life for us. I had new drive to be the best person I could be. Raising him to be a good man. Teaching him to be a good friend. Showing him how to be a gentleman. Talking to him, answering his questions, giving him love and the best life I can. I frequently say that he saved my life. Maybe the better way to say that is that he gave me a reason to truly live.
3. My (step) daughter – Knowing that someone is watching you and learning from you makes you better. In those moments when I reflect on my life and who I am, I think of her. She makes me want to be a better wife, because she’ll become one someday and I want to be a good example. She makes me want to be a better mom, because she’ll become one someday. She makes me want to be a better Christian, because, I pray, she’ll become one someday and I want to be a good example. She makes me want to be a better woman, because she’ll become one someday. She makes me want to example strength, grace, love, beauty, faith. All of the things that I pray make up her personality when she chooses who she wants to be. And, like my prayers for Isaiah, I pray she’s better than me.
4. My parents – Obviously my parents are a big influence on many aspects of my life. I would like to focus on just one of those. My parents taught me how to get along. They showed me how to maintain a positive relationship with someone because of children you share. They taught me how to create an environment for my children where it is safe for them to love all of their parents. They taught me about sacrificing any grudges or bitterness for the happiness of my child. They also taught me about love and laughter. Faith and family. Marriage and motherhood.
5. My siblings – My siblings have influenced me in very different ways. My younger brother influenced my career choice and instilled in me the drive to be an advocate for struggling students. My youngest brother gave me a deeper appreciation for music and musicians and the passion they possess for sound and rhythm. My baby sister made me view dancers as artists and the movements of the human body as something that can be used to make beautiful pictures.
6. My best friend – She gave me the push I needed to discover who I am. She convinced me that the person that I am was someone worth knowing and loving. When other people were feeding my insecurities, she was pointing out those same things as things that were awesome about me. She calls me out when I need it. She supports me when I need it. She’s always on my side. She has helped me become more confident, more self-assured, stronger. Her impact on my life helped me to realize that I had wings that were made to fly.
7. My close friend – A woman who came into my life when I was praying for a mentor, of sorts. A woman who challenges me to be the best wife, mother, and woman I can be….. and then be better. A woman who speaks truth into my life, even when she knows it’s hard for me to hear. A woman who holds me accountable to the life I’ve chosen to live. A woman who shares my love of Starbucks and sarcasm. She is invaluable to me and I am so grateful for her.
8. The only other long-term relationship I’ve had, aside from my husband. The relationship that started when I was extremely young and lasted far too long. The relationship that gave me an opportunity to learn so much about who I was. To learn about who I wanted to be. To learn about strength and how much of it I possess. To learn about the ways in which I should let people treat me. To learn about self-esteem. To learn about standing up for myself. It was a situation I should have gotten out of much earlier. But, it was a relationship that produced my son, the best part of me. And for that, I will always be grateful.
9. My 5th and 6th grade teachers – The two women who inspired me to become a teacher. The two women I thought of, especially in my first years of teaching, when I was deciding what kind of teacher I wanted to be. The two women I used to gauge myself and how I was connecting with my students. I want to be the kind of teacher that touches her students so profoundly that they look back 20 years later and remember that impact on their life.
10. My students – These kids have given me more compassion. More patience. More tolerance. More empathy. More gratitude. More understanding of the true meaning of life.