The Big Question

Informant: My mother, Catherine Calhoun, this is the story behind her favorite life lesson that eventually became mine. She tells is constantly and it has become a staple of our family. This story was obtained via email interview.

Tale, The Big Question: 

“I’ll never forget the day, at a stoplight at the corner of Western and Addison in Chicago.  A six-year-old Sophie, strapped into her booster seat behind me, pipes up.

“Mommy – I have a question.”

This was not unusual.   We often talked about everything as we drove around town. She was a curious kid, always full of questions, one of the many things I loved about my daughter.  But what was unusual was what followed her proclamation.

“If you die tomorrow – and believe me, Mommy, I do NOT want you to die tomorrow – what is the one thing you’d want me to know.”

I remember gripping the steering wheel tightly and thinking, wow, this is a real question.  A profound one.  And from a six-year-old?  What would I say?

But it took only a moment to realize what I would want her to know.

“Sophie, the one thing I’d want you to know is how important it is to be able to take care of yourself.  If you can take care of yourself you can make good decisions.  Decisions that aren’t based on someone ELSE taking care of you.

Because Prince Charming may show up – or not.  He may get sick and die.  But if you work hard and are able to take care of yourself you can not only make a good choice about a life partner and have a strong, equal relationship – but you can also be confident that you can handle whatever life throws at you.”

Do I think a six-year-old Sophie could really process all of that?

Probably not.

But it’s a small teachable moment we’ve played over and over in our family narrative.

And something I still believe to be true.

And hopefully she does too.”

Thoughts: This is one of my favorite family stories because it really describes our family. My mom and dad are separated and my mom is the main supporter of our family. She was raised with the value to always be able to take care of yourself and never depend on a man and thats what she did. She is the single most inspirational and important woman in my life and I hope to be half the person she is someday. This story describes a deep value that I hold dear to my heart as well as my mother and its also a funny and strange story because of how young I was. It eventually morphed into a sort of family proverb “Never wait for Prince Charming” that my mom still says to me.

Proverb: Never Wait For Prince Charming