By Stephanie Sampson
As my blogging experience comes to an end here at the University of Idaho Women’s Center, I can’t help but ask myself when I became a feminist. When I started this internship, I wanted to gain experience blogging as well as meet strong, motivational women. But throughout this process I have learned more than just tips on blogging.
I have always had feminist thoughts and tendencies, but before this experience I didn’t exactly know what they were or where they came from. I didn’t exactly know how passionate I was about women’s issues or what I could do to about it. I have now met a handful of independent, driven, smart, and motivational feminists and I am truly thankful. One of the women in my life that pushed me to this experience is my mother, Christine.
My mother took her job as a parent very seriously. She has always been one of those people that believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. She read countless books on the art of being a parent, and she tried her best every day to instill confidence in my little sister and I. But her drive for success isn’t surprising, because even when she was growing up she always wanted to do her best. When she was younger she had to work for something if she wanted it. She paid for her first car, her entire college career and everything in-between.
I have been self-taught big and small due to the kindness of my mother’s heart. She wanted nothing more but to give my sister and I the world, but on the day to day basis she knew that she was doing me a favor by allowing me to accomplish some tasks on my own. When I was younger she allowed me to ride the bus home and walk to and from my friend’s house. She let me cook and clean weekly in order to earn some money. I still remember each time she would hand over my allowance, she would tell me the value of work and how to save. By the time I graduated and lived on my own I had a nice savings and I knew how to take care of myself.
The most vivid memory that I have of learning the value of work was the first day my mother went to work full time. I remember that the morning of her first day she got up early, made us breakfast and created a list that she placed on the fridge. On this list was various tasks such as mow the lawn, vacuum the living room, wash the dishes, and taking the dog for a walk. Once I reached the bottom of the list, I noticed that there was a message that read, “REWARD $20.” It was a bittersweet day for my sister and I. We were used to having my mother there when we got home from school, but we were each given more responsibility.
Being a supportive and an encouraging parent is a no brainer. But my mom seeked out special moments to teach my sister and I the importance and the blessing of being a woman. For example, my sister and I loved watching Disney movies. It is well known that the women in these Disney movies are often in distress and depend on a man to rescue them from their turmoil. This was a perfect learning opportunity. I still remember my mom telling us not to rely on a man and to work hard for what we want in life. She would always smile and say that an apple we worked for would taste just a little bit sweeter. It wasn’t until years later when I was a high school graduate that her wise words all made perfect sense.
That’s the thing with getting older. When you are young you think that your parents are wrong and that you know what’s best. But then after you move out you realize that your parents were right all along. As I was moving out and on my way to college, I really debated whether or not I wanted to continue my education. I wanted to travel the world and take a little break. But my mother, the voice of reason, prevailed once more and told me that she wanted more for me. She wanted me to become more of a well-rounded person by getting a college education. She didn’t want me to feel trapped or feel like I couldn’t accomplish anything.
The moment I realized that my mother was right all along was when I moved out. I moved in with my long time boyfriend at the time, and during the first week of living together we wanted to separate the household chores. I quickly realized how well off I was when my boyfriend told me that he didn’t know how to do his own laundry and that he didn’t even know how to cook a meal for himself. I had to show him how to properly clean, cook, and budget. At that time I couldn’t have been more thankful for the lessons my mother taught me.
As a newly self-proclaimed feminist, I now know that the independence that I craved as a child has brought me here today. My mother reminding me that I can accomplish anything I wish and reassuring me that I can have anything I wish with a little hard work has made me who I am today. As my college experience is coming to a close, I am happy to say that now I know more of who I am and what I stand for. I encourage all women to respect themselves and others by respecting their minds, bodies and souls.