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Four Years at the Mount

Honoring our Mothers

My favorite person

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

The best experiences with my mother have been the ones that seem so small in comparison to all she has done for me. The experiences that happen in seconds or moments and stick with you, regardless of the time elapsed, are the ones that mean the most. The little moments are the ones that have the greatest power. They are the ones that make you think a little differently and make you laugh in reminiscence. The best moments in life are the ones shared with loved ones that keep a place in your mind and impact your thoughts and decisions for the rest of your life. Most of these moments for me come from time spent with my mom.

My mom is one of those people who you just want to be around. She lights up a room and fills it with laughter. I have loved spending time with her for as long as I can remember. When I was still in elementary school, I would always fake sick to see her. She is a schoolteacher. While I was in the same school, her classroom was located on the first floor and mine was on the second. I would always act completely sick so that my teacher would write me a pass to the nurseís office. I would then convince the nurse that my mom had medicine I could take. The nurse wasnít aware that the medicine I wanted was to actually be with my mom. With a pass in hand, I would go rush down to my momís classroom and hang out for as long as I could get away with. After a few times, my mom caught on and told me that I couldnít come down unless I was actually sick. So I realized I was going to have to be more believable. On the trip down to my momís classroom, I would run up and down the stairs multiple times so that my mom might think I was warm with a fever. I donít think I ever outsmarted her but it was a good try because even when she turned me away, I still got to spend a few moments with her and receive a hug.

In my opinion, I was raised in the best possible way. It was not in a way where rules were strictly set down; rather, my mother let me learn from my mistakes on my own. When I was younger I used to go to brunch with my mom and one of her friends every Sunday morning. The place we went to had an amazing buffet with nearly every type of food one could imagine. Like many children, the healthy options were not appealing to me and I was not easily pleased. Instead of the buffet, I would wait in the line to get a Belgian waffle. When it became my turn to order, the man making the waffles would ask me what kind I would like. There were many options I could choose from, yet I wasnít exactly interested in a waffle itself. Instead I would ask for a plate of whipped cream. One would often think that this would be a waffle topper, but for me it was an entrťe. I would get a plate of whipped cream with sprinkles for brunch and I couldnít have been more satisfied. To my recollection, my mom never told me I couldnít do this. Iím sure she warned me of the consequences, but it was a risk I was willing to take. She let me learn the hard way that getting plates of whipped cream weekly causes cavities, an important lesson one must learn.

I have become a well-rounded person because my mom has always been supportive of any goals or dreams I have had. She has literally provided me with everything I have ever needed to make my dreams come true. She enrolled me in endless activities that I expressed interest in and she made time in her busy schedule for my busy schedule. No matter what she had going on, she would be at every swim team meet, every volleyball match, and every lacrosse game I had. From the stands, she would cheer me on and afterwards she would assure me that I did a great job. She has been my motivation and has constantly reminded me that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. That seems so clichť, but it is the truth. Her support has been so powerful to me. It has gotten me through everything in my life so far, from being overwhelmed with schoolwork, to participating in extracurricular activities, to simply following my passions. Her support is what makes me strong and what makes success an option.

My mother is the most thoughtful person I know. She goes out of her way to do nice things and she is always thinking about others over herself in every one of her actions. My absolute favorite memory of my mom being thoughtful was one day during the last two weeks of my high school career. I was about to graduate and we both knew I would be going off to college after the summer. I walked out of my high school one day and was approaching my car when I become extremely puzzled. I found that it was covered in pink sticky-notes. On each sticky-note, a heart had been drawn in that familiar penmanship. I was very perplexed because it was not my birthday or a holiday or a day of any significance. Not at that time at least. I called my mom immediately seeking an answer. All she said was, "I was just thinking about how soon, you will not be close enough for me to do something like this." I found this so thoughtful and sweet. I still have one of the sticky notes inside my car and another hanging over my bed in my dorm. I often look at them and think about how silly my motherís actions were, but also about how much they meant to me. Sometimes a very small act has the greatest impact.

My mom has easily been the greatest influence on me. She is so beautiful inside and out and I could not be luckier to have her as my mother. In all honesty, the hardest part about being at college is being away from her, but I will carry with me all she has taught me throughout my life.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." It is miraculous how accurately this describes how I feel about my mom. She has shaped me to be who I am now and has helped me discover who I want to be in the future.

Thank you, Mom, for everything that you have constantly done for me. You are my favorite person in the world and I owe all I am to you.

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen


Believe in me first

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

I think for a long time people knew I was going to be a writer. I had seen the short home movie my mom had recorded of when I was five; I was sitting on a giant stuffed animal pumpkin making up some story about an evil monster, waving my tiny arms around with inflection. My little brother would occasionally stumble into the frame and ask in a tiny voice that slurred words together if I wanted to play with him and the balloon he had found. Whatís funny is that you can hear my parents laughing outside of the frame while I told my story. My mom gently interrupted it to inform my sibling that I would play when I had finished. Even when I was five years old, my mom was there to make sure that she did not miss a single word of her little storyteller at work.

With Motherís Day fast approaching, itís no coincidence that I reflect back on the role my mother has played in my development as a man and particularly as a young writer. When I was young, my mom ran a little side project called "Mommy Airlines." For two imaginative young boys who had never flown before, the idea of an airplane ride fascinated us. With very few electronics to speak of, my mom devised the "plane ride" as a way to keep us entertained. She would make us a little snack and then pop in an old movie in the VCR player. One day she decided to throw in the animated version of JRR Tolkeinís "The Hobbit," and my fate was sealed. Once a week I would ardently ask my mother if we could watch "The Hobbit," and she of course would smile and play the movie. No one knew (except for my mother) that at that point, I became an author. Tolkeinís world had captivated me in a way that no other had done. There were monsters and warriors, dragons and magic. I was hooked and my mom had created her own kind of monster.

Throughout my life, my love for the written world continued and my mom helped encourage me along a path that would have seemed strange for most parents. At night, I would sneak out of my bed and go into the toy room that was situated further down the hall when I was supposed to be fast asleep. It wasnít the chests of awesome action figures, the boxes of colorful puzzles, or the bags of Legos that interested me in the room. No, what I wanted to find my way to was the large writing desk with a small lamp. This desk was perfect for the creation of new stories. In the spacious shelves and drawers of that desk I found paper, pens, pencils and crayons, the tools that I needed to make worlds unknown.

I vividly recall the night my mom found me huddled up on the desk chair with the lamp on, paper scattered in front of me, my head turned down, and my eyes focused on some new character or exotic land. She scolded me for sneaking out of bed so late at night and said that regardless of what I said or did I had to go to sleep, no matter how good my latest creation was. I shuffled back to bed, more disappointed at being sent away while in the midst of writing something I love than getting in trouble. As I turned to give her one more hug before I went back to sleep, I could have sworn I saw my mom smiling at a boy who was surrounded by all the accouterments of childhood and playing with a pen and paper.

Now that I have matured, I can look back and see the massive role my mother has played in making me the writer I am today. She encourages me to follow a career that seems less concrete than something that might be a little more tangible. She edits my stories and my papers, corrects me on my use of grammar, and makes every piece of literature I churn out so much better in the process. My mom is my creative sounding board and one of the few people who I have trusted (or would ever trust) with a stake in the world that I create every time I put a pen to the page. The running joke in my house is that when I get published for the first time, regardless of my marital status, the children Iíve had, or the debts to powerful backers of my book, she gets the first dedication page.

While I know she is (half) kidding, there is no one else in this world I would rather dedicate that first page to than my mom, the woman who gave me the love of literature, the book in my hand, the page on the desk and the story in my heart. At the end of the day, our lives and our fortunes are ultimately owed to the person who saw what we wanted to accomplish and said two simple words, "We can." That person for me is my mother. Thanks, Mom. Iím Kyle Ott. Wonít you sit and read with me for a while?

Read other articles by Kyle Ott


Mothers make the best friends

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

Over time, Iíve discovered that many people do not have the best relationship with their mothers. That is not to say they donít love their mothers, but rather they find mothers a source of irritation or stress. Mothers are seen as a force holding them in childhood, someone who still wants to enforce rules though they may be 50 or 100 miles apart. Itís something I have never quite understood because I feel drastically different about my own mother. We go shopping together; we ride horses together; we keep no secrets from each other. Simply put, we are best friends, and like any amazing mother, she has always been there.

My mom always made a point to take my brother and me to church on Sundays, to youth group on Wednesdays, and to a private Christian school Monday through Friday. She signed me up for Christian summer camps and Neighborhood Bible Time (NBT), and eventually it paid off. I remember when I was about seven years old, I found myself sitting in an audience at an NBT rally. The preacher gave a sermon I no longer remember and then asked us to bow our heads, fold our hands, and close our eyes. The room full of children twelve years old and younger turned their faces to the ground. The preacher then asked us, "If you were to die today, do you know for sure that you would be going to Heaven?" Children all around the room raised their hands. I could not. He then asked, "If you would like to know for sure, all you have to do is say this prayer with me. Lord, I know I am a sinner, and I know that you sent your Son to die on the cross for my sins, that he was buried and rose again the third day, so that I might not have to pay for my sins. I ask you, Lord, to forgive me of my sins, and I welcome you into my heart. In Jesusí name, Amen." I remember sitting in my seat, repeating the prayer to myself.

"Anyone who just said that prayer with me, Iíd like you to come forward and talk to one of the group counselors." At first, I didnít want to move. I slowly raised my head and looked around. A few other kids walked to the front. Everyone else still had their eyes closed. I slid out of my chair, climbed over a few legs, and made it to the aisle. I walked to the front of the room where a lady met me and took me to the side. She sat down and took me through the Romans Road, making sure I fully understood what my prayer meant. I did. We prayed again, and I returned to the group. I was so excited about what had happened that I couldnít wait for the final song of the service to be over. My mom met me at the door to take me home, and she was the first person I told. She smiled and said, "I know. I saw you." The whole time, she had been sitting in the back of the room, and I hadnít even known.

Five years later, all the popular girls in my sixth grade class were talking about the horses they ride. They had wallet-sized framed photos of their favorite horses displayed on their desks, and they chattered all day about going to the barn after school. I had the notion that horseback riding might be fun, and I should try it. Not to mention, it would help me keep up the conversation at the lunch table. I told my mom that I wanted to start horseback riding lessons. She said, "Alright," and found a riding instructor through a family friend.

I suddenly became nervous. I had to follow through with my idea. What if I didnít like it? What if the other girls just thought I was a copycat? I told my mom that I didnít want to ride anymore. No doubt, just thinking it was the passing fancy of a young girl, my mom did not ask any questions. At school, I continued to hear the barn chatter from the other girls. I couldnít join in. I told my mom that I wanted to take that lesson after all. Another lesson was arranged. Again I tried to back out. This time, my mom said no. Instead, she took me to see the horses of our family friend and meet my new instructor. No lesson, just a meet and greet. It wasnít long before I caught the horse bug and owned my very own pony.

Four years later, I was competing on my high schoolís cheerleading squad. The squad mostly cheered at the schoolís soccer and basketball games, but once a year, we attended a cheerleading competition. They were small competitions, with maybe five other schools competing, but it was exciting nonetheless. The night before, two other girls on the squad slept at my house, and my mom drove us to the competition the next morning. She curled my hair and took pictures, then helped the other girls with finishing touches of glitter in their hair. The squad stretched and warmed up, chatting away our nervousness. The PA system kicked in, "Next up is the Carroll Christian Schools cheerleading squad." We ran out on the floor with our pom-poms, kicking, jumping, and cheering. Mom was front and center in the audience, cheering me on in return.

Two years later, my mom and I were driving home from school. We stopped to pick up the mail before driving down the winding gravel road that leads to our driveway. Mom flipped through the letters and tossed an envelope onto my lap. The Mount St. Maryís logo was stamped on the upper left-hand corner. I hesitated for a second and then tore it open. Silence, then, "I got in!" We both laughed and Mom cried as I read the letter aloud to her, the bumpy gravel passing unnoticed beneath the carís tires.

Four months later, it was the last week of my high school career. I was having lunch at the local Applebeeís with my friends when I received an unexpected phone call. I didnít recognize the number. "Hello?" "Hi, Nicki, this is Pastor Cole," I was worried. Why was my principal calling me? How did he even have this number? "I just wanted to call and let you know that it was really close between you and Brooke Jordan, but you are this yearís valedictorian." I thanked him, hung up, and immediately called my mom.

Several weeks ago, I drove home to visit my mom while my dad was away on a golfing trip. I told her that I finally knew what I wanted to do with my life. "I want to be a speech pathologist." When my dad returned from his trip, I brought the same thing up on the phone, "Yeah, Mom told me, but Iíd like to talk to you in person about it. I sort of felt left out."

Now, I also have a very close relationship with my father, but the bond my mom and I have is so strong and unique, even he feels a little left in the dark sometimes.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones


Dreams come true

Samantha Strub
Class of 2013

This is it. My final weeks at the Mount. I cannot believe Commencement is literally right around the corner. As Iím going about my classes, work, activities and adventures with my friends, I cannot help but think that this will be last time doing this at my University. Iím starting to feel sentimental about my beloved school that has been my home for the past four years of my life.

My dream of going to college has come true. In just a few weeks I will be walking across that stage, praying that I will not fall in my heels, shaking Dr. Powellís hand and accepting my diploma. Is this for real? I cannot believe that time is here already. My parents always told me that my college years would fly by, but I was always skeptical. When I was a sophomore I couldnít wait for college to be over, but my mom had very wise words for me. I remember that conversation like it was yesterdayÖ

It was on a hot summer day and my mom and I were lying out on our deck. It was a Saturday so neither of us had to work. I took the opportunity of a Saturday off in order to work on my tan. This procedure was always lying out on the deck with a book and headphones by the pool. When the heat became unbearable I would take a dip, flip sides and repeat. My mom came out and joined me. We kept to ourselves at first because, as a true bookworm, I had to finish just one more chapter, which turned into four. The heat became unbearable and Mom and I both went for a dip. Then we started talking about anything and everything, as many mothers and daughters do. We floated on noodles and talked about everything from the household renovations to my college friends.

During this conversation, I ended up complaining to my mom about drama that was happening and some of my classes that I was frustrated with. I told her that I was sick of college and I just wanted to be done and working. I wanted to be teaching already. I was done with college and the rules that went along with living at home again. I wanted to be moved out and a long way away. When I was done complaining, my mother told me not to worry so much about what the future would bring and instead learn to enjoy the moment. She told me to relax; adult life will not go anywhere. She said it will still be there when I am done with my degree; maybe by then, even though I will be ready, I will not be as excited. She told me that my next two years would be over in the blink of an eye. It will go by a lot faster than I think. My job is to work hard and have fun.

My mom told me that the responsiblities and drama that I was stressing about are a part of life. They will always be there and in fact multiply. If I think my responsibilities are challenging now, just wait until I am responsible for all of the students that I teach or coach. I will be responsible for teaching my students how to read, comprehend and analyze literature. I will bring them into the captivating world while guiding them on all aspects of their life without even knowing it. That, she said, is responsibility. If the responsibility of schoolwork, work and activities is overwhelming me now, simply wait until I enter the adult world that I am so anxious for.

The petty drama of friends and relationships appears to be a huge catastrophe, but in reality it is no big deal. It seems like a big deal because I am living in the moment. Obviously I am not going to get away from it, but I have to find a way to deal with it. Drama will continue to find its way into my life, even in the workplace. There are always business politics that I will have to encounter and handle. College is a good practice for learning how to deal with relationship drama and the business politics. It is all a life lesson that I do not realize I am learning until later. Then my mom proceeded to give me advice on how to handle the immediate drama in my life right now within my relationship and friends.

My mother is so wise. As graduation day fast approaches, I realize that she was right again. I do not know why it surprises me that my mother was right. I have lived with her for twenty-one years. I should have realized by now that my mother knows all.

I remember when I was a teenager. I did not think that my motherís advice was worth much. I thought that I knew everything and she was just that embarrassing woman who drove me places and cooked really good food. I thought she was insane for giving up her career and raising children. I did not understand how lucky I was to have such a self-sacrificing mother. I look back with regret on all the conversations with my mother when I called her crazy for becoming a homemaker and homeschool teacher. I looked at it like she was putting her life on hold, but in reality, she was living her life. She may have been putting aside her professional life, but that was a sacrifice she was willing to make for the sake of her children. In her mind it was not a sacrifice, but a welcomed blessing.

Every day I see myself becoming more like my mother. I see more of myself in her (and my father) as I grow older. I guess I did not escape the trend of becoming like my parents. As a teenager I was afraid of that, but now I realize that Iím proud to have turned out like my parents. Of course Iím a different person with different hopes and dreams, but Iím proud that I have grown up to be like my parents. I appreciate more than I ever have before how much my parents have helped and guided me. I couldnít ask for anything more than to have my mother always there, loving me every step of the way, even when I did not deserve it.

My mother is coming to my college graduation, which just so happens to be on Motherís Day. It will be the greatest gift I could give. She has encouraged me in all my dreams from the second she held me in her arms as a child. My mother will get to see me walk across the stage to receive my diploma from Mount St. Maryís University. She will be able to see her oldest daughter fulfilling her dream, which is a dream that she has had since I was born. It was difficult for her to drive away and leave her daughter behind four years ago. In my cluelessness and excitement at starting college, I had no idea that she cried almost all the way home in the car. She has been my number one cheerleader since day one.

Thank you for your immense wisdom and self-sacrifice. I will love you forever, Mom. Enjoy watching both of our dreams come true.

Read other articles by Samantha Strub

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