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Life Lesson

Rachel Zimmer

"Family Love" Kathryn Grau

    My mother has always been the strongest person in my life and was once one of my best friends. I would say we are still best friends, but everyone knows that in high school a teenage girl’s worst enemy is her mother. We’ve definitely had our differences, but she has always been able to find a place in her heart to help me through the worst of times. I know she loves me, but I have definitely taken her for granted and put her in some tough positions. My mother has taught me that life will move on with or without you, so when life gives you lemons make lemonade.
    Now, if I could describe my mom, I would say that she is very strong in the face of conflict. She doesn’t back down from a challenge; she is a very successful female engineer, and she is a wise role model and an easy-to-love person because of her gentle kindness towards others. She experienced a rough upbringing and because of that she tried to give her children a better childhood than she had. In an interview my mother said, “I kind of had a tough life and upbringing, you know? I was exposed to illegal drugs and so forth. When I was in sixth grade, I can remember someone doing cocaine on my math book. I didn’t do it with them, but I gave them my math book because I didn’t know what else to do.” 
    Even though my mom has been exposed to many roads and opportunities that could lead to bad outcomes, she persevered. That, in my opinion, is a truly difficult characteristic to uphold because it is much easier to give in than to be the outcast of the social scene. I may not be my mother, but I have continued to try to follow in her footsteps and stand up for myself when exposed to troublesome activities or events in my daily life. 
    Both my mother and I have been through a lot together and I would like to enlighten you on some of these subject matters. My father was both physically and mentally abusive to my mother, my siblings, and I. Our everyday experience was avoiding the ignorant and type-A personality that was my father. I knew all throughout my childhood that my father had extreme anger issues, but little did I know that he struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts when he and my mom were going through their divorce. My mom, my siblings, and I moved back to Iowa, away from him. My mom spoke about this experience in my interview with her and she said, “Think about it Rachel, I had a tough marriage. Your father was a bit difficult with [me] and with you guys…to divorce him I tried three times and the third time was finally successful; then he killed himself. So, the divorce was hell. Moving three times through all of this was hell, and trying to keep my job during this time while getting you guys through your father’s suicide was hell.”
    Just three years after my father took his life I found out that I was pregnant. This was another very emotional hardship that my mother and I endured together. My mom also touched on this topic during the interview and she said, “Trying to get back on our feet and then, you know, you got pregnant and that was hard for both of us. And I just feel like you guys are in pretty good shape and I have done the best I can.” I hope that sharing these events with you has helped you understand that my mother has provided great strength in both my siblings and me, and I wouldn’t have been able to get over these hurdles in my life without her. 
    When bad things happen in your life, the worst thing to do, in my opinion, is to hold yourself back by feeling bad for yourself. I have learned this the hard way, through personal experiences. Nobody’s empathy will change the fact that life has dealt you some pretty challenging cards and only you are the one that can decide the outcome of those cards. Tomorrow will still arrive and life will move on with or without you so, you might as well sit back and endure the ride. My mom said, “If you don’t go forward, you are only going to go backward because staying in place isn’t acceptable either.” 
    My mother has made a great impact on my life and has been my greatest supporter and crutch in hard times. She taught me how to be a strong woman and how to deal with what life throws at you. She said to me, “A lot of people tell me that I am the strongest person they have ever known and I am like no, ‘No I’m not,’ but I appear that way. And I think that is because my strengths are as a leader and when the chips are down I will persevere and I will get through, especially when it comes to family. I have always been a survivor.” My mother is my hero, and I do believe that she is the strongest person I know, whether or not she wants to accept it. I hope to follow in her footsteps and push through hard times in my life while helping others and making a difference in their lives just like she did with mine.  

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