She stands on the stage and holds sobs back in her throat as the judges ask if her family supports her dancing, “No,” and a shake of the head that flings the tears to the stage. Her mother had packed her things and told her to move out.

On the pages of Firefly Lane, a young woman graduates from high school and returns home to find all her belongings on the lawn – it was time for her to commence a new life, one not at home, her mom said.

I sit at a friend’s kitchen bar and hear her say that she just doesn’t have those kind of parents, the ones who tell you can be whatever you want to be.

This week, the reminder I am handed over and over as if it’s addressed on vellum just for me – lots of people weren’t blessed to have the mama you had. It’s a good reminder.

My mom and dad never once told my brother and I that we couldn’t do something. Never once did they suggest we find a more “practical” career. Never once did they laugh at our dreams or do anything but encourage us with words and gifts to spur that dream, even when I wanted to be a belly-dance at age 5.

Never once did I doubt that my parents would be behind me no matter where my path in life took me.

I am blessed beyond measure, for in this world where so many people crush dreams like they are discarded peanut shells, the words of my parents kept me strong. In the face of people who suggested more practical options such as a high school teaching certification or law school, my mom stood always behind my dream of being a college professor and then a writer. In the face of people who scoffed quietly to me and not so quietly to her when I decided I needed to leave full-time teaching and write, my mom always supported my decision, always praised my wisdom. In the face of people who now wish I would do something more practical like event planning or full-time teaching, my dad stands there and says, “Ah, but that’s not my Andi. That’s not who she is made to be. She is a writer.”

So today, let me Mama you just a bit. If it helps, imagine we’re beside a lake on one of those gorgeous gazebos that jut out into the water. We each have a comfy wingchair and our beverage of choice – I’m going with coffee and a shot of Baileys today.

Now let me tell you what I wish your Mama had told you or remind you of what that glorious mother said all along.

You can be anything you want to be.

Money is not the arbiter of happiness so do not chase it. Chase who you are.

Don’t listen to those people – their dreams have just been crushed, and the only way they know how to bear that pain is crush yours.

Listen to the people who know you, who know who you are at the core of yourself – those people are your guides.

Remember that you are always loved.

Be who you are.

I will always be here.

What did your Mama say to encourage you and your dreams? Or what do you wish she would have said?