This I Believe

Crystal - Arlington, Virginia
Entered on October 20, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, legacy

I remember the first time I looked in the mirror and saw my mother’s face. For years, my mother would claim, “You are your father’s daughter,” as my father would state that I was actually my mother’s daughter.

Believing I resembled my father more made sense. I have his nose, his coloring, his height. We both love sports and British comedies. I also share his love of photography. Yes, it would seem I was my father’s daughter, but I often wished more of my mother was present, hoping my reflection would be a combination of both.

So, when I observed my reflection that morning, mirroring my mother’s image, I was surprised, but more importantly, I was afraid. I was afraid of repeating the past. Ignoring the presence of their good qualities, I saw only the evidence of the ones I disliked. They were not perfect. They made mistakes. I was afraid that my parents’ bad character traits would lead me to stumble and fall over their same obstacles.

One day while driving to work, Martina McBride’s “In My Daughter’s Eyes” came on the radio. A song about how our legacies as people will be carried by our children and the reflections of our lives would be present in theirs. Moved to tears, I had to pull over.

The message of the song is true. I believe that we are a reflection of our parents, but we do not have to be defined by them. I have choice, God’s gift of free will. Like my parents, I will face daily choices, which influence the life I lead and the person I am, but, I choose who I am, what I will be. I can choose to embrace the qualities I love about them and choose to disregard the others. It’s a choice.

In my car on the side of the road, I made a major life decision – I was going to choose. So, I chose to be better version of my parents. No more blame and accusation. I would take responsibility for my own life and choices – good and bad.

When I see the combination of my parents in my image, words and actions now, I do not recoil in fear. Instead, I smile and thank God for blessing me with my parents and mindfully choose to be the best version of myself I can be. I want my reflection in my children’s faces to shine more brilliantly than my parents’ in my own. I believe it will be a legacy my own parents would be proud of.