Growing up, I was blessed to be surrounded by various strong women in my family who helped to raise me.
My mom showed me that it was possible to be both an accomplished, working woman and a caring mother to her children. My grandmothers taught me that respect is something you must earn by being kind and fair to other people. But unlike most little girls, I had a fourth motherly figure in my life: my childhood babysitter. From the time I was just a few months old until the age of twelve, I spent my weekdays at my babysitter’s house while my parents were at work. Prior to entering kindergarten, my younger sister and I would spend our whole days with our babysitter, going to the playground and playing with her own grandchildren.
My babysitter, Pat had been a stay-at-home mother to her own children yet she was the complete opposite of the stereotypical housewife that is portrayed in the media. She was in charge of many of the domestic chores and duties in her home but she always made it clear that her husband was her equal and her counterpart. As an older woman who had already raised children of her own, she demanded respect from my sister and I in a caring and loving way. Pat was heavily involved in her church and she took on many voluntary leadership positions. She was the perfect person to fill these positions because she was so outgoing and kind to other people whether she had known them forever or was just meeting them for the first time.
I remember the days when Pat would bring my sister and I along to the various events she had helped to organize. Even though she wasn’t a paid employee and had no office space to call her own, Pat was a highly valued member of the organization she worked with. She was reliable, dependable and hardworking, all while diligently watching over two little girls. Her dedication to her various commitments taught me that a balanced life is both crucial and attainable for any woman. She showed me that I could grow up and be involved in anything I was willing to actively pursue.
I was and continue to be inspired by Pat’s selflessness. She was always working towards creating a better community for the people around her, even the ones she had never met. Whether she meant to or not, she was always teaching my sister and I to strive to better the world for our neighbors. Looking back on it now, she inspired me to take up multiple leadership opportunities in my community and in my high school. After spending so much time watching her manage her commitments when I was a child, I knew I was capable of emulating her dedication.
Thank you Pat. Thank you for inspiring me to embrace opportunity. Thank you for showing me the right way to demand respect. Thank you for teaching me about the true meaning of social good. And most importantly, thank you for caring for me for all of those years. You always were and always will be one of my best female role models.
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK.