The scientiae theme of this month is your hero, and while pondering who would be the most influential in my professional life, it still turns out to be my mother.
My mother never had ambitions for her children beyond that we would be happy, but she did as much as possible to reassure that we could reach for the moon if that would make us happy. For example, there never was a lot of money in our house, but she still made it possible for me to study at the university I insisted on (because of the teaching system, you see). This included room and board, obviously, since it was too far to go up and down each day. In return, all she asked was that I cook on saturdays, since she worked saturdays. Through her effort, I never had to take out a student loan, either.
It’s probably my grandmother’s insistence that her children would be allowed to study if they wanted to. My grandmothers (both of them) were not allowed to continue their education after they turned 14. They should learn a trade, and preferably a useful one such that when they got married, they could support their husbands and be a good housewife. While I like sewing and knitting, and am glad for the connection this gives me to my grandmother, I am also very happy that I am able to pursue other activities to earn professional regard.
It’s weird how, say 10 years ago, scoffing at the maxims now regularly coming from my mouth was fun. For example, one of the things my mom used to say (still says, too) is “Do what you need to do before going of on a pleasure bent, you’ll enjoy the pleasure bent much more”. Although this was mostly quoted at us when we hadn’t done the laundry yet, or dishes, today it probably refers to weekends I would enjoy more if I had managed to prepare that lecture for monday earlier.
While I quite enjoy spending a weekend working on a lecture, my family might not appreciate me traveling to see them and then disappearing behind my laptop because there’s this lecture, you see. On the other hand, it’s also possible that my mom is quite proud of me giving lectures, so maybe together they cancel each other out.
Either way, my mom is still in inspiration to me, through the way she has lived her life, is living her life. Mostly right now through the support for her children: enough to know that we can always fall back if necessary but very able to kick us out of the blues and to make us fly on our own. Hopefully I can do the same for students (and future children)!