Why My Mother Inspires Me
by Jessica RanaeFeminist Wednesday Staff Writer
My mother is not famous. She’s not marked down in history books. She’s never protested, never rallied. She’s never tried to change the law. But she is the most inspiring woman to me because of what she’s strived for and how she lives her life.
My mother, Joyce, dreamed of being a court reporter. She also dreamed, even more so, of being a mother. Her older sister went to college, joined the military and tried to change the female stereotype in the early 1970s. My mother married young and hoped to have children. But at only 19, after her first gynecologist appointment, she sat in the doctor’s examination room as he told her that she has endometriosis, an incurable health condition that causes endometrial tissue to attach inside the body and build up on the uterus wall and attach to the fallopian tubes. The possible scarring of the fallopian tubes and the uterus walls not being smooth creates conditions in which the uterus is unable to carry life. “You’ll probably be infertile and won’t have any kids,” he said and shut the door, leaving her to cry alone in the examination room.
After my mom’s initial interaction with her first gynecologist, she decided seek out a different opinion. The second doctor she went to confirmed she had endometriosis, and told her that while it can cause infertility, it is not always a direct result. He told her the likelihood of having children decreased with age, so to try sooner rather than later. He suggested birth control pills to ease the abdominal pain, which she said helped and without the pill, the pain was much more severe.
After her first marriage ended, she married my father four years later at 30 years old. They tried several different procedures to have a baby, including invetro fertilization and egg donors. My mom underwent surgeries and took medications that increased her weight and left her emotionally drained. But nothing worked. “Everyone else can have a child so naturally and easily,” she said. “But you’re denied that, and you feel like you’re denying the person you love a child because you can’t. You feel like you’re stealing something away from them.”
My father wanted to raise a child and it didn’t matter to him how that process happened, whether biologically or not. Just having a family was important to him, so he suggested adoption. “But with him, I didn’t feel like I was stealing something away because he felt the way he did,” my mom said. “Compared to other guys who would just walk away if the kid wasn’t theirs biologically.”
I was adopted from birth 22 years ago. As a child, I remember my mom working a full day at a law firm, driving almost two hours home in the heavy Los Angeles traffic, to then cook dinner and still find time to play with me and tuck me into bed. As a teenager, I remember our back and forth arguments, me always raging louder than her. But I remember her soothing calmness and her sincere patience and understanding with me, even in the most difficult and darkest moments. Like when a stupid boy broke my heart or my beloved dog died or even when I immersed myself in drugs. She never seemed disappointed in me even when I was at my lowest.
This kind of trust and communication she provides me, her ability to be so honest and open with me, is what I admire deeply about her. I am never afraid to approach her about sex or women’s health questions and most of what I’ve learned about these things comes from my mom’s open communication. She (along with my dad) first suggested I go on the pill when I started having sex and supported me through finding the right gynecologist. My mom believes very strongly in a woman’s right to have access to birth control. “Politicians want women to be barefoot and pregnant, but we can’t let them have that control. Everyone should have the right to birth control,” she said.
My mother’s determination in never giving up is truly inspiring to me. From working her hardest and achieving an administrative position at her work while still being able to balance family life, to never letting go of her dream of motherhood even when it felt impossible, makes her the most influential woman to me. She always remained strong even in the face of extreme hardship. Her impact has influenced me to chase my own dreams with the same drive, be it professional or personal, to never quit and remain persistent and positive. “Women should have the opportunity to pursue anything they want to, to do whatever they want,” she told me. “Nothing should be regulated or controlled by their sex.”
But what I’ve taken away from my mother’s experience is how it impacted my understanding of what a mother really means, and what the identity of a woman really means. It’s not about your ability to have a baby, what organs work or what organs you have. It’s how you perceive yourself. My mother is no less of a woman because she couldn’t get pregnant. She’s even more so because of her inner strength, her endurance and her strong female power.