This I Believe

Michele - LaSalle, Michigan
Entered on May 16, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

She Who Reads the Map Rules the World

I was furiously counting stitches, praying I hadn’t mistakenly dropped one, or more, which I tend to do when I get side-tracked or nervous or both. As I concentrated on reaching that 150 stitch mark, I couldn’t help but glance up to the front seat where my sixty-five-year-old mother sat with her head bent over the Arizona state map. It was an epiphany moment for me. Like every good daughter, I have tried to hone my home managerial skills to impress upon my mother that, yes, I did indeed take heed to her lessons from years’ past. All in all, I’ve done pretty well. While I couldn’t prepare a meal when I first got married, I am now well beyond a passably good cook even if I say so myself. Over the past almost twenty years of married life, I’d accomplished quite a lot. I carried, gave birth, and nursed four children in just over six year’s span. Then I home schooled said children through their eighth grade before happily waving them off in succession to spend the next four (teenage) years with their public high school teacher father. I’ve read and reviewed more books than I care to remember or can count. I’ve written hundreds of parenting articles to hopefully inspire other fledgling women like myself in their parenting task. And thanks to the suffering of my closest friends, I’ve written books for the single moms out there in tribute to my girl friends’ courage and resilience. Still, and this irks me to no end, I cannot and probably never will succeed in one area in which my mother has perfected. Map reading. Plain and simple, the one who reads the maps rules the world.

I’ve seen it time and again. No matter how many other intelligent, gifted, and accomplished souls inhabit the planet, the person who holds the map holds the future, might as well throw in the past and present while we’re at it. I’ve watched my mom at work. Believe me, she has her technique down to a science. Before leaving on any trip, long distance or just across town, my mother has no qualms about getting out her stash of maps. With a genteel grace, she spreads these old, wrinkled specimens out on the kitchen table, peers down at the intersecting lines and colors of which I cannot decipher and lo and behold finds what she’s looking for. It’s simple she tells me. Then her pointer finger begins its automatic trek across the page detailing every highway and byway from start to finish. I have long suspected that Mom’s finger is really a magnetic honing device in disguise. And perhaps it is, because one way or another she finds the shortest route to the heart of any city and the heart of any matter. Mom’s abilities to read maps is no more astonishing than her ability in reading minds…mine in particular. As I sigh with impatience, Mom slows me down in her gentle, causal style. She lingers over the scheme of comings and goings, entreating me to do the same. Whether on the telephone or in person, Mom makes me feel like I’m her most important stopping point of the day. After we’ve chatted or visited, I do admit to coming away with the inner rejuvenation one experiences after having basked in the sun and sea for days. I’m worth the journey be it one where Mom has to navigate around detour after detour to get to my heart’s reluctant hiding spot. Or on more clear weather days, Mom has only to redirect my line of vision to the stop signs in front of me. In any case, my mom’s intuitive direction finding nature has saved me from countless mishaps and backtracking. I used to be jealous of Mom’s sense of direction, especially when my own seemed to be so out of whack, but lately, I’ve been giving thanks for it. Perhaps, with age and experience, I’ll eventually be one of those so-rare individuals who hold a map with a selfless, casual confidence…but until that time, I’ll think I’ll keep checking with Mom before taking any important trips.