My Niece's Mom

It's Mother's Day here in the US, and instead of my own mother (who was a great gal and fantastic parent, by the way), my thoughts turn instead to another mom with whom I share DNA.

A lot of people, including herself and her family (including myself), underestimate my sister. Looking at her today, you might see a somewhat flighty, middle-aged, Pollyana-ish, empty-nester suburban mom cushioned from the outside world with a protective layer of pets on whom she dotes, who's a bit obsessed with her looks and weight, and whose deepest thoughts rotate around the number of miles she runs on the treadmill. 

But the big sister of my childhood memories was an extremely talented violinist, the only girl on the boy's high school soccer team, a brave person who'd run off a cliff with the aid of only an oversized kite, and the only (one of the first) female in the aeronautical engineering program at her university. 

In retrospect, she was a trailblazer with regard to women's equality (the equal rights amendment was brand new), but she never thought of herself that way, she just did what she wanted to do, feet first, with extra gusto. Oddly enough, possibly because of her enthusiasm, or maybe her unassuming, non-competitive demeanor, what were almost certainly maverick moves by her were pretty much unnoticed by others while she was in the midst of it all.

Females didn't hold her up as an example for others, even though she was one of the first females to embrace pursuits so recently in the male-only domain. To the males around her, she was just one of them in some ways, so they didn't view her as a groundbreaker, which could be seen as both positive and negative. Her male counterparts may not have recognized her accomplishment, but they also didn't feel threatened by her, so they were largely welcoming and there wasn't a lot of the bitterness that can exist today. 

Even today she underplays her achievements, saying that she barely passed her undergraduate program, or claiming that she is no longer capable of those things. But that person still exists, she's just changed her focus. If there is one thing I wish for my sister on this day, it's that she knows that she is still more than capable of great things if she puts her mind to it.