I listened to the children’s author Jacqueline Woodson speak at the Quick Center at Fairfield Universtiy earlier this week. She talked about how books can act as both windows and mirrors for their readers. Books act as windows when readers meet characters who are not like themselves; who offer an alternative worldview. Books act as windows when they take readers to places and on journeys that are new and foreign. Books can also be mirrors. They can reveal a reader’s innermost thoughts and reflect on his or her experiences. Sometimes these mirrors reveal things about people that they didn’t even realize about themselves.
This weekend, I will host my annual fundraiser to raise money for a scholarship that I started four years ago in my mother’s name. Every year, this event gives me another chance to pause and spend time reflecting on what my mom means to me.
Like great books, my mother provided me with both windows and mirrors. She would often ask me questions or challenge me to look at the world in new ways. She would talk about her journeys and the journeys of others to show me that there were many ways to live in this world. She always told me that I had choices. She taught me that there were many perspectives. She opened my eyes to the incredible scope of what this world has to offer. My mother also acted as a mirror. She talked to me about the life I was living and pushed me to look more deeply into myself and my choices. She would call me on my decisions so that I could respond and reflect. She would help me consider the life I had chosen and the future decisions I might make. She also talked to me about things she saw in me that I didn’t see in myself. By creating these windows and mirrors, she helped me to discover myself. What else could one ask of a mother?
Like the great books, my mother helped me to become a better version of myself.