Monday, Rene Syler says in her case, it was a woman who taught her the true meaning of sacrifice and how to be a strong, independent woman. The following is her report:
Her voice was the first sound I ever heard in this world. And she remembers hearing mine.
Anne Syler says, "She was a screaming, crying, baby. She really cried a lot. She was thin, very small baby, but gained weight quickly. Because every time she screamed, I fed her."
As I grew up, her approval was all I ever needed. And as an adult, her standard is the one I want to live up to.
My mother-- was the first example I had of a real working woman.
After a stint in the military, she'd been a stay-at-home mom. But by the time I was a teenager, her relationship with my dad was in trouble.
Anne Syler says, "Well, we were both very much in love when Rene was born. But as the years went on, and things happened, I tried to establish a marriage that would last forever, because I believed in it. Had a wonderful time with him, we spent 18 years together. And then we separated."
After that, nothing would ever be the same again.
My parents' marriage was falling apart, and my mother realized that, and she knew that she was going to have to take care of herself because she knew that she wasn't going to be able to rely on my father for her retirement. And so she made some really tough choices.
At age 48, my mother was alone. With two kids, no job and no lucrative skills. As a young woman, she'd spent a decade in uniform. So, at nearly 50 years old, mom did what she felt she had to do: she re-enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.
When my parents separated, my father moved out. Both of my parents left my sister and I in the house that we grew up in.
Anne Syler says, "I was hoping I'd be stationed close but they sent me to Southern California."
That time was hard for all of us. And I didn't realize how hard it was on her until just very recently - how hard it must have been for her to leave her kids.
As a teenager, I tried my best to be supportive.
Anne Syler recalls, "She says, 'You go for it, Mom. I'm proud of you.' That made me assured that they were capable of staying by themselves."
Mom got sent to other cities, other states. We didn't see her often, but she'd always call. So we always felt that, somehow, she was there for us.
These days, she mostly sees me on TV. Sure, we talk, but not nearly enough.
Sometimes, honestly, she'll call and I'm busy. And I'm running around like a crazy woman. I've got kids, and I've got my own life, and she just calls to say, 'Hey, I saw you on TV, and you look great.' Or, 'That interview was great.' You know, she still watches with the same eye that she watched when I was 14 years old. And she's as encouraging now as she was back then.
Anne Syler says, "I'm happy with the fact that she's happy with what she's doing."
It's hard because it's always the times that she calls, I'm always running around doing something else. I guess, in a way, I don't give her enough time. I don't give her enough time in my life. And I guess that's kind of sad. I feel bad about that.
I am becoming my mother. And when I was 14, I could not think of a more horrific thing. Now, I think that'd be pretty cool.
And now I think it's cool that she can talk to anyone. She's that comfortable in her skin, and in who she is. And when I look at that, I think that's what I want to aspire to.