Today is Mother’s Day. I’m at my parents’ today, visiting with my mother and other family members. I bought my mom flowers, though not the cut sort that die shortly after bringing them home. It’s a nice hanging basket, with a variety of blooms planted in it. I’m not sure what they all are, but I thought they were pretty, and it would be something she could enjoy throughout the summer.
I definitely owe a lot to my mom. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her, and I don’t mean that in the reproductive sense (although that’s obviously also true). Rather, me, sitting here in front of this keyboard, sharing observations on The Great Outdoors – I wouldn’t be here.
My mom has been a great formative influence on me through my whole life. The decisions she’s made have affected me and my career path since before I was even born. If I had grown up in town, I undoubtedly would not have developed the interest in nature that I have today. It’s because of my upbringing in the countryside – exposed to, and in fact encouraged to play in, the mud, water, grass, snow – that my appreciation of the outdoors was cultivated early. I likely took interest in my high school biology classes, and subsequently followed that interest to university, because of this.
It was because of mom that I happened into birds. She had returned to school after having us three kids, pursuing a university degree that she had long wanted to obtain – at first just part-time, while we were still young, then finished off her undergraduate once we were all older and more independent. Following this she went on to complete a Master’s degree (which I admire her for), where she, as an older student, came to be friends with the then-professor of ornithology. She worked on a few projects with him, and through his connections learned of an opportunity to do fieldwork with birds that would be perfect for me, a student looking for a field job in my first year of university. At the time I was undecided about my focus of study. “Birds,” I thought, “birds are cool, I could do birds.” And I’ve never looked back.
She’s been incredibly supportive of the developments in my career. She encouraged me to follow opportunities I might otherwise have passed up. She’s supported me in my decisions, cheered me on from the sidelines. Both my parents have pushed us to really pursue our own dreams and desires, rather than theirs, or society’s. For that I’m grateful. None of us three kids are in a typical career of the sort you usually hear kids say when asked what they want to be when they grow up (this was evident early; I don’t remember what I wanted to be at age 6 or 8, but my sister wanted to be a pony).
My mom was there virtually every day during the week and a half I recovered in the hospital from my surgery. She would come, keep me company. We would gather up my various contraptions and tote everything down to the elevator so I could sit in the glass atrium and enjoy the airyness and the sunshine. My entire family would have liked to have been there, but it’s hard to put life on hold if things aren’t serious, and once I was moved to a regular room, Mom became their ambassador. This sort of always-there-for-us manifests itself in everything she does for us girls, and there is much we would not have been able to accomplish, or that would have been much more difficult, were it not for her support.
From Mom I have got my curiosity. I have learned to strive for what one desires. Not to let others make decisions for you. To have opinions, and stand by them, but to always be open to learning more. To participate, to give back, but not to sacrifice yourself and who you are. I have learned that you are your most valuable asset.
Tomorrow I am going with her to help her with an outdoor education class she’s running for a local group. We’re returning to the pond of yesterday’s post; while she has half the students at the pond studies part of things, I’ll take the rest down the trail to look at the forest ecosystem. I haven’t yet decided what to look at specifically, but will probably focus on wildflowers – eyecatching and pretty in a way many other things aren’t, to a group of non-naturalists. This selection are from our visit there last week. I do know the name of some of these, but not all. Surprisingly, my mom doesn’t have a wildflower guide (or it may be packed away), and I had the post all drafted up before realizing that. I will need to label these once I return home and can double-check them.