This I Believe

Christin - Jacksonville, Florida
Entered on February 17, 2007

I believe there is a parent inside of us all. Within everyone resides an innate ability to love, to console and to nurture another, whether as a child, as an adult or as an elder. That maternal or paternal instinct is honed throughout one’s life, from adolescence all the way to death. One not need to be a biological parent because his or her parental attributes, embedded since birth, will ultimately shine through, most likely at the most unexpected of times.

A product of divorce and later of a blended family, I grew up feeling loved and comforted not only by my biological mother, but also by a pair of selfless grandparents, a remarkable step-father and two step-sisters. All employed their parent within to provide for an unwittingly happy, stringy-haired blonde with a thick Southern accent, who might have otherwise been forever tainted by her biological father’s desertion.

Now an elementary teacher, I am regularly challenged to call upon my own parental abilities to best foster the 19 children with whom I spend the majority of my life from August until July. I believe that the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is truer today than it was in the darks ages when the notion was conceived. As educators, we are granted a very small window of opportunity to exert our parental aptitude so as to impact our students. However, what so often astounds me is the parent within each of my students which affects me—the person assigned to love them, to teach them, to cultivate them—as evident through the rough days I encountered this year while my husband was serving our country in the Middle East. Those inherent maternal and paternal qualities of my students came alive through letters and illustrations intended to assure me that everything was going to be OK.

I find that parent within us all intriguing and even ironic at times. Isn’t it funny that the older we get the more childlike our own parents become? I do not intend “childlike” to mean immature or incapable; rather, it is as if our biological parents simply need the presence of a more youthful, innocent parent within to comfort them in times of need: in my experience, through times of divorce, illness and deep sorrow.

To appreciate my belief in the parent within us all, one must first understand my personal, biological predicament, which until I came to this realization, I perceived to be the end all be all of my existence here on earth. Medically, there is a slight, if not rare, chance that I may not be able to conceive my own children. But mentally, I constantly wrestle with that potential scenario as if it were a death sentence—often crying when I see other women giving birth, becoming jealous and even angry at the site of parents and their own offspring, and perhaps the most challenging of all is trying to overcome the memory of my husband’s relationship prior to ours, during which his girlfriend became pregnant with his child—something I, his wife, his partner, his soul mate, may not even be able to do.

This is why I have come to believe that there is a parent inside of us all, because without that believe, my life would inevitably seem incomplete.