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  • Writer's picturelilaharrisonking

Why Your Child Needs a Mother who Believes in Herself

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

“Your children are going to grow up believing they can do anything they put their minds to because that’s what their Mother believed about herself.”

Excerpt from Love Like A Mama

I loved writing from the minute I had a journal. Along with writing stories, I enjoyed telling them, as well. In elementary school, I competed in UIL storytelling and creative writing. English teachers loved me, and looking back now; I can see they all helped me become a better writer, a better storyteller in their own way.

By the time high school rolled around, I had a teacher who uttered the dream I dare not speak out loud. “Lila, you should become a writer. Have you thought about it at all?” I shyly shrugged.

She was an excellent teacher and believed in my ability when I was too shy to share that ability with others. She lovingly pushed me out of my comfort zone by requesting I read my papers in front of the class. When I read to my peers, and the reaction was not one of snickering and laughing but genuine admiration for my words, I was surprised. I became a bit more confident in sharing what I wrote.

The high school counselor pulled me out of class one day. “Mrs. C shared a paper you wrote with me. You’re terrific. How would you feel about entering a writing contest?”

“Um, I don’t know.”

“Will you at least think about it?” He shoved a paper in my hand with all the contest details. The first-place prize was $200 and publication. The second-place prize was $50 and publication. Third place was no money and publication. I went home that weekend and wrote a story.

I placed third.

Honestly, I was disappointed I didn’t win any cash, but I was excited to get published. That was it. I determined to be an English major in college and become an author.

Fast forward to September 1992, where I had an English professor who didn't like me or my writing. I barely passed his class. I couldn’t figure out what he wanted from me. I had never struggled in an English class. It felt like I was emotionally beaten up every time he returned one of my papers to me. I wasn’t making any progress. Once the semester was over, I changed my major. Whatever my teachers and my high school counselor and the judges from the writing contest saw in me was gone...or worse, was never really there.

At the age of 24, I secured a job in a corporate office with good pay and excellent benefits. I was bored out of my ever-loving mind, but I accepted it because it provided a security level that my writing certainly could not. I worked in that office for 12 years. Then I became a mom and put all my time and energy into parenting. I don’t regret either of those decisions.

While I actively gave up my dream of writing, I never stopped writing. I continued journaling and writing short stories. I wrote essays along with some poetry and a few skits. I even wrote part of a procedures manual for the corporate office that employed me-probably the most boring project I ever completed. Still, I appreciated that my employer could see from my emails I had a knack for or at least enjoyment of writing.

At some point, my children asked me, “Why didn’t you ever become a writer?” I’ve written things for them and entertained them with my stories over the years. They know how much I love books; I love to read, and I love writing. I looked at my kids and said, “I don’t know. I guess I just stopped believing in myself at some point.” I then realized the example I was setting for them, and it wasn’t one that made me proud. I promised myself I would just do it. Quit thinking about it. Quit dreaming about it. Quit doubting my abilities. Quit wondering if someday…” Just write a book.

I did. I strung words together in a manuscript, a book designer formatted it all, a printer printed it, and people are buying it and holding it in their hands and reading my thoughts. It is surreal and scary and exciting. Mostly though, it’s rewarding. It’s rewarding to show my children they can do anything they put their minds to because that’s what I believed about myself, first.

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