Mom didn’t mean to raise me to be like this.
She didn’t raise me to be a bleeding heart liberal, someone who takes to the streets in protest of a President’s administration. She never dreamed I’d one day aspire to be a leader in the Church. She couldn’t have imagined I would be as idealistic as she is practical, or as fretful as she is reasonable.
I don’t know what my conservative, pragmatic mother expected me to become, but it definitely wasn’t this.
She even said so herself.
The other day, in the car on the way to look at wedding dresses, Mom looked at me and said, “I’m proud of the woman you are, but sometimes I look at you and wonder, ‘How did you turn out this way?’ You didn’t get any of this from me.”
On the surface, she’s right. We have different hobbies and interests. She was an athlete, and I’m an artist. She’s upfront, and I’m more meek. Most of her favorite shoes are black, and my favorite pair are my bright pink Chuck Taylors. Appearances, physical and otherwise, would suggest I got nothing from my mama.
But in reality, I got so much from her.
As a child, when she and Dad split up, and she found herself dealing with circumstances she never dreamed she’d have to confront, she did not cave in but pushed forward. She raised me on her own and gave me a household as stable and loving, if not moreso, as most two-parent families.
She taught me the world could not easily defeat me.
As a teenager, when I came home from school worried I was too quirky and different from my peers to fit in with them, she looked at me and asked, “Do you want to change for them?”
I thought about it, and I said, “No. I want to be myself and have them like me for it.”
Even though, as a teenager and even as an adult, this has been hard to live into, I do my best to be as true to my odd and sometimes awkward self as possible, and funny enough, I continue to find myself surrounded by lots of love.
She helped me realize who I am, and she taught me to be myself, unabashedly and unashamedly.
All through my life, Mom fostered in me a love for reading and learning. I read with feverish abandon, and the stories left their imprints on me. They helped me identify with people I’d never known, and they caused me to put myself into situations I hadn’t imagined. As a teacher’s daughter, I knew the importance of paying attention and participating in my education, so I talked with and listened to my own teachers to gain new insight about the world around me.
She taught me to value, uphold, and defend a variety of people and perspectives, even ones different from mine.
Those virtues and lessons, along with the multitude of others she has given me, made me into the passionate, bookish, vibrant, wannabe-troublemaker I am today.
So even though I answered her question with a typical, “I don’t know, Mama,” I accidentally told her a lie.
In the everyday actions of mothering, due to the very fact that she, Elizabeth Davis, is my mother, she shaped me into the woman I am today.
I am who I am because of her.
And I am forever thankful to her for the gift of helping me discover myself.