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Generation Peace: Women of Influence and Strength – A Mothers Day Tribute

5 May 2011 One Comment

Abby in the Kitchen

by Abby Smith, Outreach and Administration Manager

This month we will celebrate Mothers Day. Mothers: What a great thing to celebrate!  They’re the people who carry us for 9 months, take care of us for at least 18 years, and love us for life. I have been lucky to have several mothers involved in my life who helped shape and mold me into the woman I am today. As we celebrate Mothers Day let us remember that they are more than just mothers; they are the peacebuilders who have gone before us to pave the way.

I am a 22-year-old student, wife, and Outreach Manager at Peace X Peace. Being my age is not always easy. In the all too cliché song Britney Spears recorded several years ago, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.” We 20-somethings are still on the path of finding out what it really means to be a woman. We are beginning to take on responsibilities and make decisions that affect more than just us. We all have people in our lives who we look to for an example, for advice, and often, as women, for a shoulder to cry on. I have a mom, a stepmom, aunts, a mother-in-law, friends, and colleagues I can look to for examples of womanhood. These women have spent much of their life working to be a good influence on the young women around them. This month I want you to hear from them, the women who have shown me the importance of embracing womanhood.

My stepmom, Teresa, has been a major influence in my life. She is a stay-at-home mom who has raised five children, all of us girls. With three of us out of the house, she now spends her days homeschooling my younger sisters, taking care of the house, and making sure my dad is well taken care of. The stay-at-home-mom lifestyle seems outdated and even a turn-off to many ambitious career women, myself being one. However, Teresa has made me realize that her choice to stay home was a blessing to her and our family. When I asked her if she regretted the decision to stay home she said, “Absolutely not.”

Abby's Mom, Teresa Barnes, in the Kitchen

She says, “I have been blessed to be able to stay at home and influence and shape the lives of my girls. I want to protect them from the world―not shelter them in such a way that they have no world knowledge, but be able to guide and protect them until they are ready to handle the world and be strong, confident young ladies.”

When I asked her how it felt to be a woman of influence, she said, “It’s been a blessing and a curse. Being a mom to five girls meant I was always the one you looked to for an example. It made me stronger, knowing I had to let you girls know you could be whatever you want to be.”

She always encouraged us to be the best us and go after what we wanted while still staying grounded and remembering where we come from. The last question I asked was, “What is one thing you want the women of my generation to know?” Her answer: “Learn to depend on yourself before you depend on anyone else, and know that you can do whatever you want on your own.” This is a message of strength that has stayed with me through my life. I am married now and have an amazing husband, but because I learned early on to depend on myself I know I can do whatever I put my mind to.

While I had the great influence of a stay-at-home mom, another influence as a woman of strength was my aunt Linda. For the majority of her adult life she has been a working single mom. She is a successful businesswoman who can equal most men with her business knowledge, and she has succeeded with grace in raising my cousin and juggling a successful career. She doesn’t deny that being a single mom is often very trying, but she gave me a great piece of advice that can pertain to all of us as women, especially as women on a quest for peace. She said, “Sometimes you have to put your stuff aside and get outside yourself to see the bigger picture and make a bigger impact.”

Abby's Aunt, Linda Ray (rt.), with Her Daughter Karli

At my age it is easy to get so caught up in my own personal world that I fail to look outside myself and see the bigger picture. She has had to do this as a mom and as a career woman. Many young women are now finding themselves in corporate America. Asked what she has learned through her years of experience, she says: “Don’t be afraid to stand your ground and hold your own in a men’s world. Women are just as powerful, smart, and talented as any of the men you may come in contact with, so don’t be afraid to embrace that and use it as an advantage. You don’t have to adhere to the rules in a men’s corporate world. Make your own! As long as you are knowledgeable, you will be powerful.”

To all young women on the path to greatness, I encourage you to go out and be who you want to be. Define who you are as a woman and don’t be afraid to be strong and confident in whatever you do. If your path is to be a stay-at-home mom, a student, a businesswoman, a politician, or anything else, stay true to who you are and embrace your womanhood. Countless women have gone before us and shown us what it means to be a woman of strength. Don’t be afraid to learn from their mistakes and their successes!

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One Comments to “Generation Peace: Women of Influence and Strength – A Mothers Day Tribute”
  1. irit says:

    Dear Abby,
    With two teachers like your mum and aunt – you must feel very lucky.
    You’ve got a very good “start”:)

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