I bit my lip. This is so unfair! Why did this beautiful person, my mom's best friend, have to die? A mother of ten, she had lived an amazing life. For the past six years she had battled breast cancer, an example of fortitude for all who had known her. Since our families were so close, I had seen how this woman had given herself completely to her children. I cried as I heard her children's grateful testimonies for such a wonderful, self-giving mother.
As I watched this display of love for a mother so similar to mine, I thought how lucky I was to have my mother alive and well.
Reflecting on my life, I realized that in many ways my values are the same as hers. I have received a rich inheritance which includes, above all, a deep love for family. In fact, for my mom, the challenge of raising a big family has actually enabled her to succeed. By her example, my mom has taught me to live life to the fullest, regardless of its self-sacrifice.
Being the second oldest of eleven, I can remember the excitement of my mother's last three pregnancies. Last fall, I had an incredibly busy schedule. As the captain of the soccer team, photo editor of the yearbook, and class president, I boldly pursued my love of drama and participated in two plays. I did not realize how little time I had for my family until production week of the second show. The night of dress rehearsal, I came home around eleven, dead tired, but determined to finish my homework. As I turned on the kitchen lights I noticed an envelope perched on the table addressed to me from my mother. I felt a tinge of disappointment remembering she was away and would miss my performance. It was a "Break A Leg" card. The beginning of the letter was merely newsy, and I could not help wondering why she was writing. Toward the end, I came to the line "God is once more entrusting a soul to us ..." I reread the preceding sentence. "Our family is going to be quite busy in the spring." My mother was three months pregnant! I couldn't believe it. Such joy sprung from my heart that I could not help but cry! I admired this woman for thinking so little of herself, who worked her hardest and then gave more. I couldn't contain my emotions and effortlessly wrote an eight-page letter to a good friend and still had the energy to finish my homework.
As I wrote my friend, I suddenly thought with sadness how the rest of society would react to my mother's pregnancy. Most of my friends would not understand my joy for a new brother or sister or my admiration for the woman who would bring this child into the world. Other people's criticisms and the word "overpopulation" ran through my head. Some feminists would declare my mother's children a hindrance to her career. Being one of these obstacles, I realized my mother's accomplishment was indeed in making her role as a mother an amazing career. Most of society lives out Emerson's well known quote from Self Reliance, "For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure."
In raising a large family, she is going against what society now labels as normal. Yet my mother has grown strong in her inevitable "whipping." Despite society's displeasure, she is satisfied with her life in loving and caring for her family. Defying much feminist theory, she has actually become her own individual by not thinking of herself, but of others.
The generosity and hard work my mother displays is something that I hope to accomplish in my own life during and after college. I have great visions of becoming an engineer like my grandfather and solving the enigmas of the world, but no less great an achievement would be to become an ordinary heroine like my mother. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.