When I applied to graduate school for my Masters, I had to take the GRE exam which contained an essay portion. The topic I had to write about was describing how my role model influenced my life. During the brief time I had to brainstorm, I ran through my possible choices. My senior English teacher and band teacher came to mind because they believed in me and pushed me to succeed. Brother Van and Mrs. Barbara were definite considerations for their kind spirits, their willingness to help others, and their unrelenting faith in each other, in other people, and in God. I thought of my sister who survived our childhood to make a life for herself, and when her marriage fell apart, she started her life over with her little daughters in a town with no friends or relatives. I contemplated writing about my husband who supported all my dreams, gave me unconditional love, and was an amazing father. All of these role models inspired me to be a better person, and I could not imagine what my life would have been without them.
Ultimately, I decided to write about the role model who inspired me throughout my entire life: My Mom. As I reflected on who I had become, I realized my mom was the constant figure in my life who I learned from. She taught me to get an education and a good job so that I would never be dependent on a man to take care of me. She taught me that marriage is about loving and supporting each other through the good and the bad. She taught me that a mother tells her children she loves them daily and shows up when it matters. She taught me to fight for what I wanted and to stand up for others. Lastly, she taught me that my choices determine who I will be because I control my destiny and refuse to be a victim of my circumstances.
Yes, my mom was my ultimate role model. A role model of what not to be as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother. As I wrote my essay, I finally understood that without my mom, I would not be me. As much as I resented who she was and how she raised me, I was thankful for how she inspired me to be different and to do more. Isn’t that the purpose of a role model after all?