When I was in the 7th grade, the public library was right on my way home from school. Being an avid reader and nerd, it was a regular stop for me. I lived in a small town so the librarians knew me and knew my family.
Being a precocious reader, I started exploring the adult section at an early age. This drew compliments and approval from the librarians until the day I wanted to check out a book that the head librarian thought was inappropriate for my age. Margaret Mitchell’s famous classic, Gone with the Wind. I selected it to be my first book over 1,000 pages.
She refused to check it out to me!
Embarrassed and shocked, I went home. Now, at the age of 13, I was starting to distance myself from my mother. I certainly wasn’t going to tell her about my humiliating library confrontation. But the librarian had called her. She was a good woman who had gotten to know me and she enjoyed encouraging my reading habits. I’m sure she called out of a genuine concern for my impressionable and voracious mind. But my mother’s response changed my life.
I mean that – CHANGED MY LIFE!
My mother felt her influence over me weakening. She worried about me. She felt the pain of a daughter fighting for increasing distance and independence. Here was a tool to fence me in. The librarian was happy to help her monitor my literary choices. She could gain control over my mind simply by authorizing my access to books and the librarian would help her!
Instead, my mother advised the librarian that I had her full permission and encouragement to read anything I wanted. My mother instructed her not to deny me access to any materials available to the general public. She didn’t just defend my right to read. She defended my right to read freely and independently without sanction or sensor. And she did it at a time in the lives of mothers and daughters when trust is a challenge and too much freedom can be a danger. It was a courageous act of heroic parenting.
I felt like I had been given a ticket to the world. I had been given a ticket to the world. I have heard many people say “My mother is my rock.” but I don’t feel that way at all. My mother is my sky!
Thank you, Mom. I love you!