The word mentor immediately makes me think of the people who influenced my artistic life, like my oboe teacher Mr. Herbert, my beloved high school English teacher Mrs. Johnson and of course award-winning author Heather Sellers, who was my absolute favorite college professor. Each of these individuals had a profound effect on how I viewed my abilities in a relatively short amount of time. I gained creative perspective, learned to respect my strengths and trust my instincts. Each of these amazing teachers captured my heart as much as my mind and ignited passions that are still burning strong.
However, as I drank my coffee over Facebook this morning, I laughed out loud at a friend’s posted picture. Staring me in the face was a reminder that one of the greatest influences and mentors in my life was, and still is, my mom. And it doesn’t really matter how inaccurately I sometimes remember my childhood, which she is quick to point out occasionally, because who I am is a combination of all the things I remember and all the things I feel and experience.
I felt loved and cherished.
I felt important.
I felt safe.
I felt like my parents were the happiest people in the world.
I felt silly and I felt smart.
My love for cooking, hospitality, writing, friendships, parenting, community and family all stem from my relationship with my mom. Her strengths are the things I admire and want to emulate. And even in her weaknesses, I find her honesty to be the best example of humility, teaching me to not be afraid of being more transparent. Everyday I find that I understand and relate to her a little more, which helps me to understand myself at this stage of my life. Every day I am a better person for knowing her.
Perhaps the best mentors are the ones that slowly influence us, make us believe in ourselves and help us strive for excellence in small simple ways just by existing and being themselves, day in and day out.
It is scary and overwhelming to think about how much influence I have over these two little girls I am raising that will someday be women, wives and mothers. I am their mentor too. The environment and relationship I create now will effect their futures and the people they will become. That is a huge burden and one that I just can not dwell on. I don’t want to over think every situation, conversation or emotion because I might miss the simple things. I don’t want to worry about making everything a “teachable moment” because sometimes the lesson is just time together being ourselves.
I don’t ever remember saying to myself, “I think I would make a great mentor someday” but I do remember thinking, “I believe I can be a great mom someday” because I had a wonderful example.
Do you have a mentor, or are you a mentor for someone else? Today’s writing prompt from Write on Edge asked us to link up a personal experience and show what that relationship means. The word limit was 500.