Jimmy’s Question

Jimmy’s Question

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

Jimmy’s Question

Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved.

Erich Fromm

It was obvious there was something on his mind as he watched me prepare dinner that evening. But with other people in and out of the kitchen, he did not say what he was thinking. I sensed he was waiting for everyone to be gone, so he could talk to me alone—to discuss something for our ears only, something important.

He was only eight years old when I met him. With his freckled face, blue eyes, and lock of blonde hair sweeping across his forehead, he looked as though he could have been Huck Finn, but of course he wasn’t. His name was Jimmy.

For months he had mourned his mom’s death, but now he really wanted to fill that void with a new mom. Just like his father, he was ready to “move on.” When I married his father a short time earlier, I became Jimmy’s mother—he became my son. But we all know a true mother-son relationship does not happen just because a legal document says we’re related. It is always a decision made in the hearts of both parties involved.

Although the words were never spoken, right from the start Jimmy and I both knew what our relationship would be. I could tell from the way he treated me. He could tell from my response to him—and vice versa.

Soon thereafter came this evening in the kitchen when he asked the question that was on his heart, the question to which he needed to hear an answer in order to feel comfortable with this new person in his life. It did not matter that I was cooking dinner or that other people might come into the room. It could wait no longer. This was the moment he had chosen to ask me: “Is it okay if I call you ‘Mom’?”

If ever there were a question that needed an immediate reply, if ever there were a response on the tip of one’s tongue, this was it. I would not need time to consider my answer. After all, wasn’t Jimmy the child whose head always rested on my shoulder when we were in church? Wasn’t he the kid whose hand always found mine as we walked together? Didn’t he resemble his father—the father with whom I had fallen in love? And wasn’t this the little guy who had stolen my heart the first time I saw him?

And could there possibly be any doubt in my mind as to my response?

None whatsoever.

Joanne Wright Schulte

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