We met in grade one.
We have been friends ever since.
She was the sunny cherry tomato to my shy string bean. She drew pictures, I wrote stories. We found the same things funny, but she delivered the punchline and I was the fall guy. We were a secret club of two, both of us in terrible glasses and kitchen haircuts. We were each other’s safe place throughout elementary school and beyond.
We went to different high schools, then university and our 20s pulled us in different directions, early motherhood found us in different countries. Now, across the country from where we began our friendship we have, wonderfully, so luckily, found each other again.
Barbara knew in grade one that she wanted to be a mother. She wanted six children, at least. I wanted to be famous for something Glamorous and Important. It didn’t quite turn out the way we thought, but I know for sure Barb is a better mother than she ever imagined. Barb is the shortest person I know but stands amongst the tallest. She is a role model for most of the people who work with her. She goes out of her way to help other people and tries to be a mentor for the students she teaches. Her daughters know the strength of their mother’s love, but they also know by her example that a woman can be many things.
Her girls will know in their cells and platelets that they are loved for who they truly are, that they are capable of being whatever they want to be now, and when they grow into whoever they will become. They know that their mother will be there to cheer them on and they have been empowered to believe they can move beyond anyone who gets in their way.
Though at different ages and stages, Barbara and I both have girls. It feels a little like looking through binoculars backwards. We walked those sometimes-perilous girlhood paths together once before, we are walking them again now as we help our daughters find their own way. When the path gets prickly, and it does, and it will, I want my daughter to recognize the kind of person she can count on, and I want her to know she can be her own champion through the difficult places. It is harder to find your way if you don’t know what you are looking for.
Role models are often powerful for girls and it is not easy to truly “see” your own mother. When we are laughing in the kitchen I can see my daughter watching, drawing nearer to Barb’s energy, and listening carefully because she speaks the truth, honestly and with humour. Not something all adults manage to do.
I think other girls would benefit from the same things I admire in my friend: her perspective, her self-acceptance, her compassion, and her fantastic sense of humour (honed in early childhood by life with her three siblings) and most of all her ability to look life in the eye and say “I am not afraid of you.” If she hadn’t taken my hand that day in Grade One I’d have been doomed to an elementary school eternity of awkward-partner gym classes, boring walks home and snowy schoolyard face washes.
This is Barb and her daughters:
The picture speaks volumes about what it is to be a mother of daughters in general and to Barb as a mother in particular—Walk fearlessly into life. I am always here to hold your hand. The castle is yours to explore. Don’t wait for someone to rescue you, you are well equipped to do it yourself. Let’s go!
Know an amazing mom who’s an inspiration to women and girls? Celebrate her!
Visit www.CelebrateMom.ca by September 4th to nominate her for the Dove Celebrate Mom Contest.
She could win $2,500 for herself and $2,500 to be donated to the charity of her choice. But more importantly, you’ll be introducing young girls to real role models who inspire them to reach their full potential! Nominate her now!
Check out more stories about inspiring role model moms.
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