I was raised by a champion.

I am thankful for how I was raised.

My mom raised me to allow people in my life because I wanted them there, not because I needed them. Family, friends, bosses, lovers, significant others, strangers that became family. Anyone. Everyone. It was an unspoken lesson. She never said the words out loud but she taught me through years of example. Not once, in my entire existence has she ever begged someone to stay in her life. Not once, in my entire existence has she ever kept a person in her life that made it negative just because she needed them. Not once, in my entire existence, has she ever been anything short of strong, independent, and well-rounded.

My mom didn’t give lectures. We didn’t talk about being a good person. She didn’t push her views and morals on to me. She taught me how to be the person I could stand seeing in the mirror by how she lives.

She taught me grace, sophistication, elegance, and manners. She also taught me the situations in which to be brutal, stubborn, abrasive and direct. She taught me how to be the entire package. There is a time and place for every aspect of me in this world. She taught me to never apologize for being who I am.

She taught me that it takes a stronger person to walk away from an unhealthy situation than it does for someone to stay. She taught me that allowing people to walk all over you, to take advantage of you, to allow you to be an option instead of a priority in their life is not okay. It takes more courage to make the decision to take care of yourself than to give way to excuse that you think you are helping the other person.

My mom taught me through life that you have to be true to yourself. But in being true to yourself, you don’t have to be mean or cruel to others. Always stand by your beliefs, your morals, your decisions, but do it for yourself. Do not be stubborn to something just for the sake of how it affects someone else.

My mom is not perfect. That imperfection is what taught me that is was okay to be human.

You know that saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” She honed it. I didn’t understand how she could be so calm all the time. How even in the most desolate of moments, when I could feel her heart breaking, she was silent. It was the calm before the storm. But her storm was never dangerous, it was never loud, and it was never regretted afterwards. She taught me that I can be hurt, I can be upset, I can be mad, and I can disagree while still maintaining my dignity and myself respect.

The only thing in life you have that is truly yours are your choices, reactions and your reputation. She was mindful to never ruin hers and made it look effortless along the way. She is the reflection I try to see every day when I look in the mirror. She is the light along my path. My guide.

I am far from being calm in every situation when I need to be. I feel every emotion deeply and intensely and sometimes that is hard to get a grip on. I can let it consume or I can feel nothing but I am learning that balance. I get angry. I cry when I get angry. I get hurt easily. I hide it so that I don’t react instead of preventing it from happening again. I get embarrassed easily. My anxiety causes me to be nervous. I am learning. Each and every day, in every situation she helps me without knowing it. She reminds me that I am the daughter of the strongest person in my life and I can handle the life that I know I am destined for.

I recently read a post about how people are not raised to leave uncomfortable situations. That we try to appease other people so intensely that we sacrifice our own personal comfort and boundaries. It really hit home when they referenced how their mom picked them up from a sleep over and the parent apologized that her own daughter called her mother and woke her up.

https://aplus.com/a/erynn-brook-leaving-uncomfortable-situation-twitter-thread?no_monetization=true

It hit home because I realized that I was given a lesson in life that I didn’t realize everyone didn’t have. Not until yesterday when I read that article. My mom never said to leave in uncomfortable situations but she always made herself available. She always listened to what I had to say, picked me up immediately when I needed her, and made herself my safe haven. I’m not saying that through those horrendous teenage years that we didn’t fight like every other parent and child. Probably worse. I pushed every limit and every rule far more than any parent should have to endure. Through every single one of those mistakes, failures, and heart breaks, she still loved me for exactly who I was. A lost, independent, stubborn child that thought she was an adult. My mom never wavered and I grew stronger.

I never had to worry about what my mom was going to think about a decision that I made. I never had the overwhelming parent that is portrayed in movies where they set their kid on a path in life and provide their unwelcome judgement all the time. What did my mom want me to be when I grew up? No idea. Did my mom want me to get married, have 5 kids, and move next door to her? No idea. My mom has never told me how to live my life. She has undoubtedly supported me in every decision I have ever made and has told me that I was destined for great things. To this day, she lets me determine what those great things are.

My mom has never ridiculed me, made fun of me, judged me, or made me feel bad about myself. She has never taken the opportunity to try to influence any decision I have ever made. She has helped me make pros and cons when I needed it. She has provided her input that wasn’t asked for when it involved my health and my safety, like a parent is supposed to. She has provided advice based on personal experience or long and thought out observations. She has never tried to indulge her own wants out of life into mine.

It is all these reasons combined that I wake up every morning with very set views on my life and my day. There are days that I have to remind myself of them. Some days that get to me more than others. But on a normal day, I can hear my mom over the years instilling these lessons.
1. No matter what happens today, I will survive. I will be stronger for it tomorrow.
2. There is always a reason to smile, if you don’t have one that is the choice you made when you woke up.
3. Don’t ever be an option
4. Don’t keep yourself in a situation you do not want to be in.
5. Fear is acceptable. Letting fear win is not.
6. Don’t ever yell when you are mad or hurt. A delayed reaction is better than a hasty one.
7. You do not need anyone in your life that isn’t excited to have you in theirs.
8. Be kind. Even to the people who don’t deserve it.

The most important lesson my mom ever taught me is forgiveness. She taught me that forgiving someone is not weak. Yes, they may have hurt you, they may have angered you, may have acted upon something that greatly affected you in a negative way. At the end of the day, they have to live with the choice that they made. You do not. Forgive them for being human.

Forgiveness does not mean acceptance. It does not mean you condone the action that they took or the words that they spoke. Forgiveness does not mean that you give them the opportunity to hurt you again.

Everyone talks about people in life that they admire. Everyone has a hero. Everyone has a person that they respect more than others.

My mom, through all the continuous obstacles and blessings that I have been through in my life, has been there every single step of the way. She is the strongest person I have ever had the opportunity to share my life with.

The irony in all of this, is that as independent, courageous, and adventurous as she has made me… I have no idea what I would do without her.

She adds character to our adventures and courage to my heart.

My mom is my hero, a champion of life.

Tammy Lee
October 7, 2018

She may kill me for those photos but… I love them 🙂

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