This I Believe

Carol - North Chatham, Massachusetts
Entered on October 29, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: death
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This I Believe . . .

Lost and Found

Written and submitted by, Carol Jeanne Sutherland Nickerson

As I get closer to becoming a parent of teenagers, my confidence shakes as if it could be measured on the Richter scale. My own leftover teenage insecurities bubble to the surface. I’ve felt confident in my work with teenagers. After all, I’ve worked with them for almost 20 years in my social work practice. But the idea of being a parent of teens feels very different.

I believe that a very important way to boost my confidence in parenting and other areas is to remember the support of others from the past as well as the present. The resources I develop in relationships from the past and present are contained inside me and I can draw from them. I recently experienced just this very process. I was questioning my ability to maintain the relationships I’ve worked hard to develop with my children as they got older. My mind spontaneously took me to a memory that had been tucked away in my mind.

It was a summer day, about ten years ago. I was at a former teacher’s funeral; I’d known her from my seventh grade on. My high school classmate’s face at the podium was vivid. My eyes strained to stay dry, my breath held tight, as his voice cracked with effort to regain sound. I could only make out mumbling, and then he said, “She treated me like she was my fan”. Suddenly I could breathe again. That’s it. This teacher made me feel she was my fan; she saw in me what I was only just beginning to get to know.

My teacher exuded strength and love. When she sang a Broadway best, her audience became part of the production. When she sang a lullaby, they were babies in a cradle. I loved her singing, but I took voice lessons with her because I was drawn to her. I wasn’t anyone’s younger sister, I wasn’t another voice student. When I was around her, I was me and everything I had the capacity to become, and I felt it.

As I became aware of this video clip from the past, I noticed a sense of warm support, as if her hand was on my back and she was saying, “You can do it. You’ll do just fine.” I realized why this memory came to me. It responded to my need for support when I doubted my abilities. It was a resource inside me from the past.

My inner resources grow within my relationships. They are sustained inside my mind. I will continue to build my confidence and skills in parenting. And ever so important are the mentors I have, and have had, in my life. Sometimes my inner resources come forward spontaneously. Sometimes I have to consciously invite them to be remembered. Sometimes they are found behind multiple layers of my experiences, happy, sad, and painful as they may be.