This I Believe

Shaunna - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on April 3, 2007

I believe in the power of a mother’s words.

When I was a little girl, I would create the most amazing family trees. I would pore over my own roots, examining the connections and relationships which bloomed and developed, leading to the production of new people to carry on our line. I saw my name, deep within that intricate map, and tried to imagine the things that had led me to be. The names, the faces, the loves, the hopes. They were all there, hidden invisibly between the birth dates and deaths.

As I grew older, those lines continued to show themselves through the experiences I had with my own family, my own mom, and they weren’t all as pretty as the ones I had hoped would happen. They had been influenced by things far beyond me, predating our lives for generations. There were hurts and pains, angry words and harsh messages which created within me fears and worries which were difficult to let go. I saw myself being shaped and molded into a person that I despised, and felt challenged to fight. I felt that everything I did was a mistake, and that nothing I chose was right. Those words were power. Those words were control. I eventually got beyond their presence but not their influence, but determined to find my own way to continue the tree.

I have not been given the opportunity to share my genetic code with a child. I have yet to experience the pain of birth or of life inside my body, and I may never know it. But I was given the chance to parent: to create a new line from my branch with the children of my choice. I have two, and they could not be loved more.

One night as I helped my six-year-old daughter into pajamas and bed, she turned to me with a hug.

“I’m so glad you’re my mother forever.”

My answer was simple, and it seemed to give her what she needed. I replied to her, “I’ll always choose to be your mom. You’re the most important girl I know.”

With that, she smiled and seemed happy to fall back into the flowered sheets strewn with her soft, fluffy animals. There in the space of her bedroom, her existence had been validated, and she was able to know that I wanted her, always. I realized in that moment that if I can give her that feeling of acceptance, that feeling of right, from my branch on the tree, then she has all she needs to grow into her own. She can be a leaf alive, free and healthy, never feeling the need to float away too far from where she started.

I’m a mom, and my words are important. This I believe.