Interviewing My Mom, My Hero: Badass Women Series
I feel like everyone is all “My Mom is my hero.”
I mean, ok, not everyone. Some people had crappy Mom’s and that sucks.
But generally speaking, if you ask someone about their inspiration or hero, it’s their Mom and Dad.
Well, that is true for me too!
So for the second installment in my ongoing series “Badass Women”, where I interview women who inspire me, I am featuring my Mom!
Interviewing her was amazing. I pretty much knew most of the answers to these questions, but I liked very much hearing her answer them in her words and getting to learn even more about her.
And her photoshoot was even more fun!
We wanted to do it in the sunflower fields and downtown. But then a big storm arrived and it was going to rain for days.
We only had one day where our schedules aligned before I left for New York, so I wasn't about to reschedule. So we waited to see what would happen.
When the day arrived, rain was forecasted, but the sun was shining. So we decided to chance it.
Once we were out of the city, there was rain. Nothing heavy, just a drizzle, but enough to get us wet and mess up hair and makeup.
But we kept driving.
When we arrived, the rain had stopped, but a big rain cloud was moving in fast. So we hopped to and made fast work of the photoshoot.
The ground was slippery mud, Mom's hair started falling, there was still some drizzle, the sky was very gloomy, it's just laughable really. But we weren't giving up, and I am glad we didn't. The photos are amazing and will be cherished for a lifetime!
I hope you enjoy the interview and portraits half as much as I did, because she is truly a badass woman who has been through hell and back a few times and is wildly inspiring!
Me (Kimberly): So, you just had knee surgery, tell me a little about that.
Mom (Gail): “Um, I was walking around bone on bone and tired of not being able to live my life to the fullest.”
K: Because of your knee surgery you haven’t been able to go back to work as a teacher yet, are you eager to get back to teaching?
G: “Yes. I miss interacting with the kids. I just miss all of it. I miss kids being around. I miss their ‘smart wit’. They keep me on my toes and they keep me young.”
K: What is your favorite part of teaching?
G: “The kids, all their personalities. Seeing the progress they make, realizing that they can do it. I had one little girl last year that felt dumb. Her grandma thanked me because she'd always hated math and I made math fun and built her confidence to where that she loved it.”
K: When you were younger, did you ever see yourself as a teacher?
G: “No. My Mom tried to get me the first time to be a teacher and I said no. I'd spent 13 years in school, I would spend 4 more years in school, and I'm not spending my whole life in school. And here I am.”
K: How did you end up teaching then?
G: “After I graduated the first time, I was substitute teaching for extra income. And I liked it. Except for kindergarten.
I liked teaching older kids.”
K: So, you talked about being able to empower kids as a favorite part of teaching, who are some people that have empowered you throughout your life. In school and out.
G: “My Mom.
My senior English teacher, Ms Martha Ellis.”
K: How did they empower you?
G: “Mom has just shown me you can get through anything. That you have more strength than you think you do. That if you dig down deep enough, you can find it.
“Ms Ellis she gave me confidence in my brain, to know that I was smart enough to do what I wanted to do and that it was ok to be me. Through journaling, that's how she did it.
The things I wrote in that journal would scorch a sailor's ears. She never judged us, we could cuss all we wanted in that journal and she didn't care. We thought that was cool. She read them, cause she would make comments.
She also taught us how to write so I could make it in college.”
K: How do you feel you've empowered others? In school and out.
G: “I tried to be an example for friends and family that you can make it on your own in life. And that it is ok to ask for help.
At school I try to make it so they don't fear math. That it's fun and like a puzzle. It's not scary.”
K: Tell me 5 fun facts about yourself.
G: I like to dance.
I like to have a good time with friends or family.
I like playing at the pool with the grandkids.
I love music. All kinds of crazy music. Even some rap. People my age don’t like rap.
That I'm not afraid to take risks.
K: Favorite music?
G: “Classic rock.”
K: Favorite book?
G: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
G: “Cause she suffered a severe attack, but she overcame it, she actually killed him. She overcame him and faced her attacker down. She was stronger in the end.”
K: Favorite place you’ve ever been?
K: Favorite childhood memory?
G: “Playing karate chops with my Dad. I would've been like 3 or 4.”
K: How would you describe your style?
K: What does your style say about you?
G: “That I'm fun and I don't act my age.”
K: Do you like what it says about you?
K: So, growing up you inspired me and helped teach me about fashion. I know I remember many times you flat told me I could not leave the house dressed in what I chose because I looked so ridiculous. Which I thank you for! Can you tell me what it was like raising such a wild dresser?
G: *laughing* “Um, you learn to pick your battles and you learn how to let kids express their individuality in the ways that are available to them. I mean, that's one of the few ways they get to show their individuality. They don't to show it in any other way. They don't have control over any other decisions. Like what they eat, where they go to school.”
K: Tell us what 5 things you cannot live without right now.
Water. Like the beach and the pool.
K: Where did you grow up?
G: “Shreveport, except for a couple of years in Houston.”
K: Three words you would use to describe yourself?
G: Loyal. Protective. Confident.
K: Those are very kind words, was that on purpose or are you at a point in your life where you don't speak harshly about yourself anymore?
G: “There's no point in my life where I did speak harshly. I just didn't.
I guess when I got divorced, that's when I stopped being so critical of myself. I figured out I wasn't so bad after all. I kinda liked me.” *laughs*
K: What's your advice to other women on learning to like themselves?
G: “Don't be so critical and forgive yourself.”
K: What part of your body do you love most?
G: “My hair.”
K: What is your number one tip for other women?
G: “Don't take yourself too seriously, enjoy life.”
K: You’ve not had it easy in life (laundry list we needn’t go through), yet you are more confident now than ever and you are happier now too! Just two years ago you were in a bad wreck that permanently messed up your back. Can you tell me how you’ve gotten to this place?
G: “Well, 11 injections helped. Sheer determination. To be independent again.”
K: So, this series is about women who inspire me. I feel like most women would pick their Mom, but can you guess why I might have chosen you?
K: It's because you made sure me, Amy, and Michelle knew that being a girl didn't mean we couldn't do something and that we could have control. To not accept anything less than what we deserve and to stand up for ourselves. You empowered us, and when anyone challenged that, you made sure we knew that was not acceptable.