When my daughter was born, I walked the floors of our Atlanta home night after night, day after day, holding her while she slept or when she cried, stopping always in front of the wall of backyard windows framing a forest of trees. As I grew into my unexpected role of single motherhood, I watched the bare trees bend, and sometimes break under the weight of silver winter icicles. Then, as if reborn, I saw the same trees stretch tall and proud with tight spring blossoms of white, pink and lavender, before expanding, under the summer rains, into a lush landscape of green. Finally, these magnificent trees transformed, as if to colored music, into passionate reds, singing oranges and dancing yellows of fall, just as we packed our boxes and moved away.
My 10-year-old daughter came home from school sad, her shoulders carrying the kind of weight that breaks a mother's heart. She faced a tough dilemma: friends who were no longer true friends, demanding her to compromise who she is or be alone. It's the kind of challenge we all meet many times in life, in different disguises. The fear of being alone versus the self-destruction of changing who you are so as not to be alone; the challenge of the mere one of us against the seeming might of the many of them; the overwhelming feeling of odds stacked against you, of being quietly different from the louder group but choosing anyway, to believe in yourself.