Celebrating My Mom: Her Beauty and Strength

Celebrating My Mom: Her Beauty and Strength

Here's to the most inspirational woman in my life.

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In observance of International Women's Day on March 8th, it is of paramount importance that we take a few moments to consciously recognize the women in our lives. We often call the women we adore by casual names like "Mom", "my sister", or "my girlfriend", and, usually, these nouns are intimate enough to replace their names---but not today. Today is for appreciating you, Melanie Daugherty, my mom---not as my mother, but as a human whom I hold with the highest regards.

It is easy for me to recall the innumerable times you've embraced me (even though I considered myself to be a disappointment), forced me to put my qualms into perspective, or insisted I put my aspirations into action (because "can't is too lazy to try") ; but, the magnitude of your accomplishments shouldn't always be measured by its impact on me, however, if it were to be, let it be the times you've inspired me.

Mom, I have always appreciated you, but I truly began to define you as my idol during my sophomore year of high school. During this time, I began experiencing shame in my identity. I was an athletic girl, but suffered from body dysmorphia, as well as a misunderstood and pessimistic perception of my inner thoughts. I became very introspective and was completely fixated on thoughts of worthlessness and lack of purpose. I assumed chronic fatigue was just a characteristic of being a teenager. In me, you recognized a past version of who you once were. I cried to you and you embraced me in your arms. My deteriorating state of mental health was not your burden, and you refused to let me define myself by diagnoses and prescriptions. Recognizing your success and triumph over anorexia and depression motivated me. I was so proud to be your daughter. Knowing that confidence and appreciation for the world was possible to achieve accelerated me into a period of self-reflection and determination. I wanted to trace your template of self-improvement with my footsteps and create a new image of myself---one that would reignite my childhood "spark".

You're not just my hero for saving me, but for giving me someone to admire. You live your life without limitations. Competing in the 140.6 mile Ironman triathlon is an accomplishment in itself, competing in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii is even more incredible, and completing eight of these triathlons is enough for most people to call you "crazy" rather than by your name. Your greatest demonstration of strength however, was not through athletic prowess, but through mental and emotional perseverance.

Losing your best friend to breast cancer was almost inconceivable because no one ever wants to acknowledge it as a possibility. What people also try to forget, is that it is just as possible for their lives to be taken from them. After learning to cope with your best friend's death, you were diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Watching you grow progressively weaker was enervating in itself. This wasn't a reality I was able to accept as truth, partially because you were my mom, but also because your strength was an aspect of you that I didn't think could ever be taken from you---and I was right.

Although your complexion grew pallid and your body could no longer sustain itself, your mindset remained the same. You would not accept a last breath, and you ensured that every breath you took reiterated that. You demonstrated to me that positivity is the panacea that combats a discouraged mind.

Mom, for you, I am proud. I am grateful to have lost sometimes, because without loss, I wouldn't have been able to realize my strength, and I wouldn't have realized that if you hadn't been my anchor.

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10 Abnormally Normal Things About College

Some stuff just doesn't fly in the real world.
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College is a weird, weird place. For whatever reason, the young adults who are supposed to be cultivating their minds with all of the worldly knowledge available to them, seem to get away with quite a bit using the justification "it's college." Even the best students live abnormally while on the alien planet that is a university. So, while to us college students it may just seem like another day, here are ten things that are only normal in college.

1. Straight up theft.

In the future, if I walk into my forty-something-year-old neighbor's home and see a collection of stolen signs, stuff from the local restaurant, and property from the construction site down the road, I would definitely be concerned about the character of my neighbor. However, in college, people proudly display campus signs, traffic cones, or dining hall napkin dispensers that they have impressively commandeered - it's a cheap decoration and a great conversation starter.

2. All-nighters.

Maybe with the exception of parents of little babies, very few people willingly stay up for close to 24 hours on end. In the real world, if a friend came to you and said that they literally did not sleep the previous night, it's completely logical to be worried. On the other hand, when a friend in college says that he was up all night you laugh a little, give him an understanding pat on the back, and walk with him to the coffee line.

3. Atrocious eating habits.

Sometimes you don't have time to eat. Sometimes you order pizza at 2 in the morning. Sometimes you eat three dinners. Sometimes you diet. All I can say, is thank goodness that our metabolisms are decently high at this age.

4. Breaking and entering.

In high school, you hopefully knew everyone who entered your home. After college, hopefully, that's still the case. However, when you live in the middle of thousands of bored college students, people knock at your door, walk into parties, cut through your yard, and stop by without invitation or hesitation. It keeps life fun, but still not normal.

5. Calling mom when stuff goes down.

I really doubt a time will ever come that I don't need to call my mom for guidance on how to do something. But, hopefully the frequency of those calls with go down a little bit post-graduation. Maybe after four years of doing it on my own, I'll know how to fill out government forms, cook real dinners, and get stains out. But for now, I'm going to keep calling while I still can without seeming totally pathetic.

6. Being intoxicated at weird times.

Drunk at noon on a Friday is the quintessence of an alcoholic at any time - unless it's college. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone, but there aren't many other places where people would instantly assume someone is intoxicated if they're acting even a little weird. I've even seen people drink in the library....

7. The messed up dating scene.



There are people who meet the love of their life at college and live happily ever after. They are people who meet the supposed love of their life at college and never talk to them again after Sunday. There are people who use Tinder. Hormones are high, freedom is bountiful, and football players are cute - what else needs to be said?

8. A warped sense of time.

The career I'm pursuing will require me to be at work by 7 am, five days a week. I am fully aware of this. Now, will I enroll in an 8 am next semester? Absolutely not - I'm not a demon. In college, nights often start at 10 p.m., dinners are eaten at 4, and mornings can begin anywhere from 8 to 2. We don't get that whole 9-5 idea.

9. Costumes... for no apparent reason.

High schoolers have a dress code. Adults have dignity. College students have fun. Here, people will wear a corn costume to get on ESPN, a fanny pack to get into a fraternity, or a tutu to match a theme party. Is it actually a weird thing, though? No one even blinks an eye.

10. Insanely close friends.

Name another point in your life when you live with your friends, study with your friends, drive with your friends, eat with your friends, go out with your friends, and even grocery shop with your friends. I'll wait. At college, it's easy for friends to seem like family because you're with them constantly. Love it or hate it, it's weird about college.

So, enjoy this weirdness while you can - it won't last forever!


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Cover Image Credit: Matthew Kupfer

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To All The Girls Out There, Everyone Is Responsible For Their Own Happiness

You are not ideal. Nobody is perfect.

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Your body belongs to you, and no one is allowed to violate it without your permission. If a man forces you to have sex when you do not want to, it is rape. If someone hits you, even a slap, it is violence. No matter whether the man is your father, brother, husband, or lover, no one is allowed to invade your body in any way.

Do not let anyone say that you cannot do something just because you are a girl. It is a bit rough to say, but if it doesn't need "that thing" to do, it is not just for men. If you want to study engineering, study engineering. If you want to beat the drum, play the drum. If you want to play soccer, go to the football field. If you want to love a woman, find yourself a girlfriend.

Many people will ask if you have a boyfriend or not and if you don't, they will feel very pity. It is as if women must have a man next to them to fulfill their mission as a woman. That's silly! You are a perfect, individual and independent person. You can choose to have a single life if that suits you. You can choose to love someone because that person makes your life beautiful, not just to show it to someone else.

In many cultures, there may be people who advise you that women have to wait for men to ask them out because men do not love women who are actively chasing after them If you listen to that advice, you might still be single for a long time. Some men like shy women. Some others like women that are strong and energetic. Just be yourself! Follow what you want, and you will meet the man who loves you for who you are. If you pursue someone who doesn't like you just because you're "active," that person doesn't fit into your personality anyway.

Also in some cultures, you will probably meet a man who wants you to stay at home to do the housework. If you want to spend time raising your children, that's a good thing. If you want both spouses to work and share the burden of housework, that is also a good thing. I already met many women pursuing careers, and their husbands help them by staying at home to do the housework, that is no problem at all. A decent man will listen to your wishes and have confidence in himself to overcome social prejudices about the role of the husband. Both can discuss to come up with a decision together. No one can impose you on their 'ideal woman' model. You are not ideal. And nobody is perfect.

I realized that beautiful women have many benefits. You can learn how to do makeup, use your beauty as a weapon to get what you want. But beauty is not your responsibility. As poet Warsan Shire said: "My existence is not about how desirable you find me." So be beautiful, inside and outside.

If you want to have gender equality, you will have to give up the rights that only women can have. You are not entitled to claim that your boyfriend has to pay for your dinner. If both of you have your career and make money, then both of you should pay. You don't have the right to ask your boyfriend to pick you up wherever you go. You have legs so that you can go by yourself. You are not allowed to make your boyfriend wait for you more than an hour just because you don't know and cannot choose any appropriate clothes to wear. No one is allowed to make others wait for them. But if your boyfriend voluntarily does all the things for you without any complain, then congratulations! You are lucky to have both gender equality and a beautiful relationship.

Finally, remember that you can control your life completely, and whether or not you are happy, it depends on you.

Wishing your life will be filled with peace and love.

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