This I Believe

Michelle - Manchester, Missouri
Entered on January 25, 2008
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.

One Step at a Time

My two-year old daughter and I stand at the bottom of the stairs, hands clasped, clad in our pajamas. To her, the thirteen steps must look insurmountable. She gazes up at me with her big green eyes and asks, “How we gone get up here?”

I squeeze her hand and smile, “One step at a time, baby girl.”

As I look at her, I remember how overwhelmed I was when I was deciding if I could handle this whole motherhood thing. I’d lie in bed at night and have visions of teenage tantrums, car crashes, and “THE TALK.” I’m a high school teacher, so I wasn’t naïve. I knew with certainty these things were coming. When I expressed my concerns to a close friend, she said, “You aren’t going to give birth to a teenager, Michelle. You have twelve years to work up to it. One step at a time.”

I’m not a risk-taker. I’m a chronic worrier, but I can get my self to make a leap of faith if I just remember that it’s not really a leap but more like a series of small steps.

I used to sit in my math class in high school and daydream while the teacher droned on about x and y. My body was there in the classroom, but my mind was focused on a poster above the door. I read, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. At the time I just thought about the nebulous future that waited for me outside the building. It seemed the rest of my life would be the thousand miles.

As I get older, however, I realize there are so many legs to the journey.

I don’t consider myself an incredibly strong person, but I’ve done a few things that I never though were possible…All because I took it one step at a time. Two friends in graduate school asked if I wanted to ride a bike trail across the state. Two hundred and twenty-five miles, to be exact. My stomach lurched. I didn’t want to be left out, but two hundred and twenty-five miles? Me?

“Oh come on, Michelle. We’ll ride every week and work up to it.”

“Alright,” I said. One step at a time.

As I watch my daughter sleep, her purple pajamas rising and falling rhythmically with her deep breaths, I struggle to quell the worries that well up inside me. How am I going to do this? What if something happens to her? What if I don’t tell her all the right things? But then my breathing steps in line with hers. One step at a time… One step at a time… One step at a time…