As a child, I would drag my troubles into the kitchen where my mom would be starting the night’s dinner and unload every thought I had troubling me into her vicinity.
Chances are that from an early age I knew how intent my mom was on making sure her daughter felt heard.
I carried on for years sitting at the kitchen table, propping my feet on the shelf next to it and gliding into conversation until dinner was ready. It has become second nature. Even after four months of not being home, I took my seat at the dinner table that first night during Christmas break and talked to my mom while she made spaghetti.
Some of my fondest memories I have of my mother took place in just that setting. The smells from the kitchen and the sound of her laughter dragging out into the living room.
Like most mothers, she has a caring nature and is genuine in allowing me to be the person I want to be.
Women are put up on screens and in magazines, they are told how to act and how to look. Many women look upon it as some kind of social yardstick they must measure up to in order to be seen as a woman.
Luckily for me, a phenomenal woman had been standing in front of me the entire time.
As a kid, I was often intrigued by women writers like J.K. Rowling, Maya Angelou and Jane Austen. They all influenced me, but not nearly to the extent that the writer in the room over did.
My mom was the one to show me Maya Angelou’s work, including one of her poems: “Phenomenal Woman.” Angelou creates a character exhibiting confidence and grace. This character is meant to symbolize Angelou herself and I see so much of this poem in my mom.
If it were not for my mother, I would not have found a love for writing.
By saying little, she has incurred the title of the most intent listener.
When she did speak, there were never any negative or unfavorable words, but, instead, words of wisdom and honesty. As I spoke, she never let me be ill-natured toward myself or others.
She has set this example of a phenomenal woman and knows how to build women up better than any other person I know.
I could go on about how much of a wonderful person my mother is, but then I would be missing my point: that strong women come from the source.
As women, it is our job to build each other up, and I wonder about the person I would be if it were not for my mom’s empowerment.
Women should focus on the inner woman rather than their physical image. Whether that focus be on kindness, grace or humor, it should never be overshadowed by one’s physique.
My mom empowered me to be a phenomenal woman by listening intently and speaking with wisdom—something more women should do as they look to each other for leadership.
I encourage every woman to read “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou and live every day as the woman about whom she writes.
The thing I miss most about home is my mom. I miss sitting in my chair at home, resting my feet on the shelf and talking to the most phenomenal woman I know.
Without her, so much of what I wanted to be would not have been possible.
Happy birthday to a phenomenal woman.
Chelsea Felton is freshman English and Journalism major from Riverton, Wyo.