People like my mother do not appear often in one’s life. She is selfless without being depreciatingly so. She is witty, charming, and very very smart. She is beautiful in a way that requires little effort. She is strong, and she is a believer in strength for all. She is fair, she is opinionated, and she carries a grudge, but she knows when to let go and forgive, even a child that sets out to hurt.
As a teacher, this lesson sticks with me every day. Our students may lash out with words that are meant to destruct, destroy and hurt, and yet I stand by them, knowing that they too are momentarily lost on their path in life but one day they will return to me.
Tonight my mother was awarded the University of Wisconsin Academic Excellence in Teaching Award. We were there to see her accept it and there to cheer. My mother passes her lessons of love, curiosity, and inventiveness on to students every day and for once someone finally acknowledged just how incredible she is. So thank you to the most important woman in my life, thank you to the one who taught me what it means to live with grace and to believe fervently that we make a difference. We speak of teachers as role models, and yes, my mother is mine, but she is also many others’. Thank you for standing by and standing up when I needed it. Thank you for kicking in and kicking butt when it was deserved. I am the product of a strong woman. I hope my daughter will say the same about me.