Impact lives, make history where you can

Shelley Blundell

March has always been a special month – it’s the month winter starts to recede (unless you live in Ohio where winter rears its ugly head all freaking year), and it’s the month of college basketball mania across the nation.

As many of you are aware, March is also Women’s History Month. As part of the celebration, the National Women’s History Project chooses a theme each year to encompass a different aspect of celebration in women’s history. This year’s theme is “Women: Builders of Communities and Dreams.”

Now I know there are a lot of people who don’t like history because they cannot associate with a lot of the material, and a subject like women’s history may seem daunting at best, considering the amount of knowledge available today. So I suggest you bring the history home by honoring a woman in your life who you feel has helped you build your dreams.

For some of you, it may be a former teacher or professor. It may be a boss, a favorite “crazy aunt,” or even the little old lady next door who bakes the most delicious cookies you have ever tasted.

But for me, that woman is my mother.

Throughout my life, my mother has been a constant source of mystery to me. Never having the “close friends” relationship with her that some of my friends had with their mothers, I never really had a full appreciation for the person my mother was.

In 2000, we moved to the United States and for the longest time, my mom was one of the only people I had to talk to, and that helped bring us closer. And the closer we became, the more I learned about her and was amazed by her.

Born in 1954 during a period of great political upheaval in South Africa, my mom saw life from all ends of the spectrum before she was even a teenager. Her father worked away a lot because jobs for non-Afrikaans people were very few. She learned from her own mother how to make the absolute most out of barely anything at all.

When my mother was done with high school, she worked at various places until she saved enough money to travel. And travel she did, spending many months virtually alone journeying through Europe and seeing first-hand the history she had adored so much when learning about it at home.

She met my father in her early twenties and married him soon after – she had two children (me and my younger brother) and chose to be a stay-at-home mom, despite the fact my parents both knew things would be financially tight if she did. She nurtured us all in life and learning, and always knew how to make even a thing as simple as Tupperware into the most adventurous game ever.

Now my brother and I are adults, and my mother (at the noble age of 51) is studying for her bachelor’s degree in fine arts right here at Kent State. In fact, we’re even taking a class together right now – and we both love every minute of it.

So while my mother and I have sometimes had our problems, never quite seeing eye-to-eye, there is no doubt in my mind that I could not have become half the person I am without her constant hope and encouragement. And for that reason, I choose my mother to honor this Women’s History Month.

For all that you do Mom, there are not enough thank-yous in the world – may you all take the time to thank that special woman in your life this March.

Shelley Blundell is a senior magazine journalism and history major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]