I think it would be fun to write a series of posts dedicated to people who inspire me. I’m a lucky girl who has quite a large and supportive family, super talented & wonderful friends, and a community of people around me who push me to be the best I can be. It’s only fair that I show gratitude and recognize some of those outstanding people who have served as rocks and mentors in my life.
This first one is dedicated to My Mother. Mi Madre. Maj. Gal Pal Sal. The One & Only….
I should probably start this little post by reminding you that I am the oldest of five kids. And my youngest sibling is only 7 1/2 years younger than I am… Kind of crazy, right? That were a lot of littles running around our house. And I can’t say that we were all the easiest. Especially me. So more props to the awesome parents who raised us.
Any time I describe a childhood story to a new friend, her immediate reaction is, “I need to meet your Mother”. My mom is quite a character and hands-down the funniest human being I know. Unintentionally. Which makes it all the better.
Growing up, I resented her for many of the things that I now thank her for. She made us independent and resourceful. She forced us to figure things out when many of the kids around us were being coached by their parents through everything. We had to get ourselves places, whether it was on a bike or the bus or by foot. We had to pay for things at an early age. We had to work for what we wanted.
Beginning at the age of 11, we had to contribute money toward each of our family trips. The first was our 5 week road trip out west where we visited 9 states and escaped for a good portion of the summer. I remember being frustrated with my mom the following year when she insisted we leave on a road trip again (3 weeks this time) and I had to contribute money toward the vacation I didn’t even want to go on. I wanted to be at home with my friends. But Sal’s an enforcer and a rule’s a rule so we had to save up cash to partake in the family adventure. And so I did it with a smile on my face. (Harry Potter on tape did a little bit of negotiating). These trips we took as a family are some of the most memorable childhood experiences I have. And it made them even more special knowing we contributed to them.
You might ask how an 11 year old has any spare cash to spend, but as I said, she made us pretty resourceful. Babysitting, selling my painted rocks (yes- I did have customers), hosting car washes, and running my own kiddie camp in the backyard were dynamite ways to make money. And I didn’t have anything to spend it on! So in the piggy bank it went!
My mom is also a creator. And a visionary. And contributor to society. She’s constantly thinking outside the box and giving her time to people she feels are in need.
After witnessing a few entitled moments of us kids as elementary students, my mom became frustrated with the bubble we lived in. She began an organization called Do Your P’Art that joined kids from ‘The North Shore’ of Chicago with inner city kids to collaborate on art projects. The point was to show us all that we’re all alike, no matter where we come from. And when we work together, magical things can happen.
Only last year, my mom started volunteering at this incredible place called Crusher’s Club. She drives to one of the most dangerous parts of the city to help kids get involved in boxing. Many of them box so that they don’t join gangs. They want to feel like they belong somewhere. She brings them her famous molasses sugar cookies and listens to their stories.
I think when it comes down to it, what I respect so much about my mom is that she is always trying to do the right thing and really make the world better. And she put so much effort into raising her kids to understand how lucky they were. Not by telling, but by showing. Because actions speak louder than words.
Other than Gal Pal Sal’s innate ability to make things happen and inspire people around her, she also just happens to be so much fun to be around. She’s eccentric, quirky ( she loves to rock her ‘light-up’ glasses), and loves a good beer. She plays on a women’s ice hockey team called the Cougars and enjoys driving (STILL) a 12 seat van around so she can give tours of Chicago.
She’s one of a kind.
She’s a fantastic sounding board.
She’s a wonderful person.
An amazing friend.
And hands down the most fantastic mother I could ever ask for.
I love you Maj!