Austin’s Best Mentor
When asked to describe what a “mentor” is or does, I’d be quick to respond with Merriam-Webster’s definition, “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher,” or perhaps its second meaning, “an influential senior sponsor or supporter.” Whichever you choose, both serve well as analytic explanations, but, for me, a “mentor” can only be defined subjectively, through my eyes.
You may be wondering, “Well, what is a ‘mentor’ to you then, Mr.?”
To which I must reply, “You’ll need a bit more background…”
When I was seven, my Mom made the difficult (but not so) decision to, quite literally, remove my father from my life. My “bio-dad,” as I prefer to refer to him, is a drug addict, and felt no shame in administering his drugs around his seven-, five-, and three-year-old children.
From my child perspective, I was unable to grasp the gravity of my Mom’s resolve. But now, after being deeply immersed in a family law firm for over a year, I can understand it. My Mom confronted a dilemma, and, after evaluating her options, she chose the route she felt most appropriate and beneficial for her children.
A Single Parent Home
For the next seven years, she was a single parent, in every aspect of that reality. I remember her struggles as vividly as if I, too, had been an adult in that household during those challenging times. As the oldest, I was first in line for her venting, whether it concerned money, the lack of child support from my “Dad,” the logistics of raising three kids alone, the parenting problems posed by my kid brother and my kid sister as they matured, etc., etc. So I quickly became accustomed to some of the harsh realities of living in a single parent home, even if I wasn’t the single parent myself. As a child, for example, I missed out on the annual school shopping trips that all my friends enjoyed (from what I remember, although I’m sure other kids were in the same position). Instead, as I waited in line for lunch each day, my worried brain repeatedly teased one thought, “Is there enough money in my account?” I always heaved a huge sigh when I made it past the cashier at the end of the queue.
But, as a child, you can never truly understand the sacrifices made for your benefit, especially those made by a parent. To this day, I have not heard a word from my “bio-dad.” I’m neither disappointed in that experience, nor the reality I faced as a child. After seven years, my Mom remarried, this time to a phenomenal man, Matt. At first, . . . well, I’ll let you imagine how a 14-year-old teenage boy (who had not only grown up without a male father figure, but who had (arguably) served as the second head-of-household) would react to a new man in the house. Over many years (and many more verbal arguments), I began to appreciate Matt, as a father, but even more so for the support he provided for my Mom.
What Is A Mentor?
So, what is a “mentor?” And, is it a requirement that he/she be a “counselor or teacher,” or a “senior sponsor or supporter?”
A mentor is someone who makes sacrifices so that you can be “all you can be.” A mentor is a special individual who knows you, your aspirations and your goals, but also what you are capable of, and what they hope to see you achieve one day. My Mom is one of many mentors in my life, but I must admit that she is the mentor in my life. (She’ll giggle when she reads this).
People come and go. Some are gifted to you from the start, but that doesn’t necessitate their continued close connection in your life. Those who stay and are persistent in cheering you on as you cross the finish line, are the ones to keep close. If that person inspires you to be the best you, she is a mentor. It’s a plus if she convinces you to sign up for another marathon!
As I mentioned, my Mom is one (the best!) of my many mentors. In Part II, I’ll discuss another mentor near and dear to my heart, but you’ll have to wait until August 2021 for that blog.
If you or someone you know is struggling to take the first step towards a healthy life, one without the weight of an addict (of any kind) pulling him or her down, reach out to us at Open Palm Law. We are committed to providing families with a kinder, gentler alternative to courtroom divorce.
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Austin joined Open Palm Law in June 2019 as our undergraduate intern. He brings fresh eyes to our firm, with his well-rounded education and diligent work ethic. Austin is a third-year, pre-law student at the University of Tampa. He will receive his Bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Philosophy in May 2021. Joryn “picked him up” at her favorite Starbucks, when he was manning the drive-through window. In the rest of his free time, Austin plays Men’s Club Volleyball and volunteers as a member of the President’s Leadership Fellows and Honors Program.