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Column: Mum didn't settle for mediocre

Tanya Ryan's monthly column #LightSideUp
Tanya Ryan 2

I feel really blessed to be the product of two parents who repeatedly told me that I was capable of whatever I put my mind to. And I feel maybe just one degree greater than that, because not only did my parents verbally say those words – my mum lived it.

My parents divorced when I was two years old. I have never harboured resentment about this fact – it was always just the way it is. I was raised, with my little brother, primarily by my mum in Saskatoon.

In that time of our life, my mum didn’t make much money – quite the opposite in fact. She didn’t have a secondary education so the financially abundant employment opportunities were modest.

I don’t know how she did it, but my mum raised two kids on a very low income. Somehow, she managed to not only qualify for a mortgage, but to sustain the payments and keep up with the cost of maintaining a home. And probably the most amazing piece: she decided to go to university. This will never not blow my mind. It was considerably less common at that time for adults to go to university.

Not to mention a single parent with two kids, single-income and primary custody. She somehow had to work, pay the bills, go to school, do homework, raise us and still have somewhat of a social life. (I’m certain the latter suffered the most)

My mum did what many people would say is impossible. She didn’t make excuses – there was no such thing as “I can’t afford it.” “I don’t have time.” “It’s too hard.” – even though these would’ve all been very valid. The way I see it: my mum saw a crossroads. You can continue to get by, and have a mediocre life. Or you can buckle down for a few years, take life head-on – and make a great one.

She sacrificed so much and those sacrifices taught me something that I am so grateful to know: Life is worth it. A good life is worth the struggle, worth the hurt, worth the challenge. That though it may be simpler, easier, to live in mediocrity – with what is good enough – it is ultimately more gratifying and more worthwhile to live to your fullest potential.

And she has. Cami Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in marketing, a master’s degree in agriculture and economics, as well as her PhD. She’s been published multiple times in text books, magazines and online articles. She is well respected in her field, and loved by her friends. She’s innovative, intelligent, funny and is committed to helping the everyman by overturning the spread of misinformation. And the coolest part of all of this: my mum is a great mum. She managed to be this amazing person, in her own right – and yet always put my brother and I first. I know I can count on my mum for absolutely anything, at any time.

Thank you mum – for not just telling me – but showing me that you can do absolutely. Effing. Anything.