If I had to pick one word to describe my mom, it would be “more.” If I asked all of her family and friends to come up with one as I did, I’m sure nobody else would say that. In fact, I wouldn’t have either before I really thought about it today.
Earlier today, as I was scraping peanut butter out of a near-empty jar, I recalled what my mom would say. “You can get more out of that. I’ll show you how much is really left.” To some, that may just be a routine daily occurrence, one that wouldn’t really stick in your mind throughout the years. Some may even dismiss her as just another peanut butter stickler. For me, however, it has lingered in my thoughts, and surfaces from time to time.
Why has this one instance lingered in my head? Because it wasn’t just about that one instance. Every time I am nearing the end of a tube of toothpaste, I remember her saying how she could squeeze more out of any tube, even when most would simply throw it away, thinking it had seen better teeth cleaning days.
It wasn’t just with these simple everyday items that she wanted more out of, either. She always wanted more out of her own life, too. Along with the easy task of helping to raise my brother and I along with my dad, she saw a great career as a dental hygienist come to an end as cancer treatments limited the dexterity in her fingers. She could have just thrown in the towel. But she didn’t. My mom went on to get her master’s in Social Work at Smith College and reinvented herself for a second career that was just as, if not more, successful.
This whole notion of wanting more has rubbed off on me, or at least I think. When I struggled in cross country in high school, I knew I could get more out of myself. So, I ran so much the following summer to the point that people made a game out of seeing me running and then conferring as to where they saw me. Sometimes, I would pop up in multiple towns or locations in town on the same day. I was never the fastest runner on the team, but I did make varsity and run the Western Mass. Championship my senior year, which was my ultimate goal. As a rower at the University of New Hampshire, when I struggled most of my first year rowing on the water especially, I constantly asked what I could do to improve. Eventually I did improve significantly, not to the point of being one of the best rowers technically, but I was selected to row in the Head of the Charles by my senior year, something I always wanted to do since I went my freshman year.
Now, as the calendar creeps towards the 3 year anniversary of my college graduation, I can say I certainly want more out of my life. Again, not in a greedy way, but I want to make myself and others around me better. I know my mom would be right there with me, encouraging me to push myself, and to do more. Well, in a way, she is, because I am thinking of her constantly and have a good idea of what she would want for me. I may not have a dream job, or a dream apartment, or a dream relationship, or a dream anything really, but what I do have is a desire to be the best I can be. I have a belief that I can and will do more, even if I doubt myself, which is admittedly something I do more than I should. Do I know exactly what I want to do? Not entirely. It could be writing, something I have always loved. I may want to go back to the mental health field, which I have had experience with personally and in the work environment. I do know, however, that there is nothing more beautiful than knowing I have quite an influence beside me.