The author (left) and her mother

In a recent conversation with my mother, I told her that I learned to be a feminist from her. While we were talking by telephone, I could tell that my mother was surprised. She did not consider herself a feminist – never have. However, as I started explaining that watching her inspired all my passion for women’s equality and women’s studies, she realized that unintentionally she had taught her daughters (and was now teaching her granddaughters) that women should and could achieve to be ANYTHING.

After my conversation with my mother ended, I thought about all the things that I DO know and the fact that I learned them all from my mother. She was a single mother and I grew up in a home with my older sister, grandmother and two aunts. (My poor two male cousins were sorely outnumbered).  Each of these women played a major role in my life and each of them served as my mother in some capacity.

My grandmother was the head of the household. A vibrant and active woman, my most vivid memories are of my grandmother in the kitchen or on the veranda. The kitchen was her domain and it was from her that all the women (and men) of the family – my four aunts and five uncles learned to cook. It was no different when the grandchildren arrived. At age 9 those living in the house were taught to boil an egg. As we got older, our recipes progressed earning us an opportunity to cook simple, but what in our eyes were more ‘fancy’ dishes.  It was my grand-‘Mother’ who taught me to cook.

Then, there were my aunts – as different as can be, but who each in their own way, taught me numerous lessons about being an independent woman that respected herself and to expect respect from others. As hardworking women, they always worked steadily both as employees and as business owners. Each of them started their own businesses and was successful at it. Watching them, I learned that it was important just to try because the smallest efforts could result in highly satisfactory accomplishments.

Then, there’s my little-used skill of sewing that always amazes my friends when they discover it. This I learned from mommy. A seamstress by trade, I spent hours at the side of my mother on weekends and some evenings sewing on buttons, ripping out seams and helping cut a pattern. I often complained that I wasn’t interest in sewing. Yet, now I am grateful for those moments and hours. The result has been numerous dollars saved in alterations and the assistance I can provide to my friends.

These are just a few of the many lessons I learned from my ‘mothers. ’Some of the other things I learned:

-          How to stretch my dollars, so that a dollar gets you through a week

-          To keep asking questions if there is something you don’t know;

-          To separate my clothes by style AND color;

-          My love for shoes;

-          Compassion for others

-          My faith in God

The list could go on and on. And I have to admit that I never realized how much I had learned until now. In recent months as I’ve paid more attention to my own personality and my experiences – and as I wish my mother another Happy Mother’s Day I am truly grateful for the lessons my mothers provided and the guidance they still offer. THANK YOU, MOMMIES and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the mothers in our lives.