To Mom, My Wonder Woman

To Mom, My Wonder Woman

Superheroes exist, and my mom is living proof.
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I get writer's block a lot, but I don't think I've ever stared at a screen longer than I have while trying to come up with the words for this article. I mean...where does one even begin to explain their infinite gratitude for the very person who gave them life?

I guess I'll start here: my mom is a little weird. She's obsessed with all things Jimmy Buffet and has a disgusting amount of flamingo items (including but not limited to: a flamingo tattoo on her foot and a Christmas lawn flamingo). She buys socks labeled with L's and R's so she knows which go on which feet. I asked her what her favorite animal was the other day, expecting something normal like maybe elephant, giraffe, or dog. Her answer? "Platypus."

Yup, Wendy is a quirky one...that's for sure. But man do I love her, all weird quirks included.

I often forget how lucky I am to have the mother that I do. I think a lot of times I assume my relationship with my mom is how everyone's is: rocky points here and there, but at the end of the day there's always this underlying sense of unconditional love.

Then every once in a while, something will happen that puts things into perspective and makes me realize how extraordinary my relationship with my mom is. I'll hear, read, or see a story and I'll understand how rare my mother's care, gentleness, patience, and wisdom truly are.

Every day, I see a new side of strength in my mom. Until a few years ago, I never really grasped how courageously she's led her life. Her mother passed away when she was young, and although she was raised in the loving arms of her aunt and uncle, I've come to see the tragedy in growing up without your biological mother despite how great another parental figure may be.

Somehow though, I think that painful experience is what made my mom into the unbelievably incredible mother she is today. She loves so deeply and fully because she knows the value of that love. I don't know how she managed to do it, but she really mastered this whole "mothering" thing.

Her courage is what I admire most. I'm a big comic nerd, and I love my strong female characters like Supergirl and Wonder Woman. I look at these powerful women and think of the strength, bravery, and resilience they have and I wish that I could know them and be them. But then, I look at my mom and I realize that I have my own superhero right at home. She's strength, bravery, and resilience personified. Her unyielding care and compassion are weapons far more powerful than any shield or sword, and she binds her family together with a fiercely loyal and unbreakable love.

My mother is the strongest woman I know. She's witty, understanding, wise, kind, selfless, and relentlessly optimistic. I have never known someone as passionate toward all the multitudes of life as her, and I hope one day I can grow up to be at least half the woman she is. She may be an oddball who's a little too invested in her bird feeders and tracking of the weather, but she's my oddball and I wouldn't trade her for any of the superheroes on my shelves.

I love you mom, and I'm so proud to be your daughter. Thank you for all you do and for being the kind of mother some people only dream of.

Cover Image Credit: Casey Wahl

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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We Need To Stop Treating Arranged Marriages Like Business Deals

We need to stop treating marriages like business deals where the groom gets dowry in exchange for his willingness to marry and the bride gets a husband in exchange for dowry.

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When I was thirteen years old, I spent my summer break at my cousin sister's place. She spilled steaming hot tea all over her thigh leaving a huge burn scar. The first thing my aunt said to her was "What would your future husband think about that scar? You should have been more careful." My cousin was just fourteen.

Growing up, we are made to believe that marriage is the most important thing in a woman's life and is going to be her biggest achievement. I thought it was hideous how we were made to believe this and pressurized to get married in fear of what society would think until I realized just how hideous the process of an arranged marriage itself is.

According to an IPSOS survey conducted in 2013, 74% of Indian marriages are arranged. Being the youngest sibling and cousin, I watched a lot of my older family members and relatives getting arranged marriages. Having spent most of my life in India, I have witnessed no other marriages than arranged marriages. It is funny to me how people have a checklist of superficial expectations like stereotypical beauty standards and unrealistic salary expectations. From publishing ads like "In search of a slim, tall, fair, very beautiful, homely girl who knows how to cook and sew" in the newspaper, the process of finding a groom or bride through an arranged marriage couldn't be more misogynistic and sexist.

Surrounded by all this, I penned down a poem in hope that we would stop treating marriages like business deals where the groom gets dowry in exchange for his willingness to marry and the bride gets a husband in exchange for dowry.

I

The glass bangles on her wrist jingled as she placed a plate of laddoos in front of the guests,

She wondered if this was the family that would finally pass her parents' tests.

"Oh! She is as fair as milk" the boy's mother exclaimed,

Her cheeks flushed to the color of scarlet under her dupatta as trained.

"He is too short" to her mother, he didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

II

When no suitable match was found, the search was still profound.

"Hush," the girl's mother whispered "Don't tell them about the burn on the leg of the bride"

"What man will marry her once he finds?"

Another man arrived, tall, fair, and handsome- he was perfect,

Except that huge mole on his cheek which left him imperfect.

"The mole doesn't complement his face" to her aunt, he didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

III

Still no luck in finding a groom,

Her father placed a matrimonial ad.

"Searching for a suitable groom, engineer or doctor, 25, fair, slim, vegetarian, no disabilities" the ad read,

The ad was published in multiple newspapers so that she could finally be wed.

Another boy arrived, but this time the tables turned,

"What? She can't cook?" the boy's mother was left concerned

"Oh, what a shame" to his parents' she didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

IV

When everything had been tried, a Jyotish was consulted,

Vastu remedies for delay in marriage he suggested.

"Fast for sixteen consecutive days, the kitchen shouldn't be in the southwest."

Yet another boy arrived, tall, fair, slim, no moles- he seemed the best,

With everything from their checklist of expectations checked, everyone seemed to be impressed.

"But his earnings are so less," her father was left depressed.

To nobody he appealed,

The deal still wasn't sealed.

V

The number of grooms decreased as her age increased,

The girl walked in with a plate of laddoos, but this time from the southeast.

"Oh my god, the bride can't cook," the boy's mother noticed,

Thankfully the burn on her leg went unnoticed.

Double the dowry was demanded,

Her father's savings made sure the groom's family didn't leave empty-handed,

The girl's mother approved the boy, so did her mother's mother,

And her uncle, his wife, and their daughter

Even to the distant relatives, he appealed,

The deal was finally sealed.

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