From the very first moment I found out that I was pregnant with Embry, I promised one thing. That he would always know he was wanted and loved.

My parents were not warm, nurturing or affectionate. I cannot number the times they showed me that I was a burden to them, a disappointment, an albatross.  My grades were never good enough, the classes I took weren’t challenging enough, I didn’t have enough friends, they didn’t like my friends, I should go out for all the sports, I should have a job, my hair looked better short, long, my…everything they could criticize they did.

I remember, in the third grade, I won second place in a math contest. I was so happy and proud of the little trophy and the teacher praised me. When I got home and showed my parents, all they could say was why didn’t I take first. I was crushed. That one sentence ruined math for me for a long time, and took away my spirit to try to do things and be better.

When I got pregnant with Embry, there was no support of any form from them. Not emotional, physical or financial. I heard about the program in La Push to help girls like me, so I left. It was there I found out what unconditional love and acceptance were all about. Aunt Molly ran the program, and I was taken care of, found a job and aided all through my journey. Women came to help and talk, teach me what to expect in every stage and aspect of this journey. When my parents showed up one day saying they wanted to take us home, I hesitated going back to their cold world. The ladies encouraged me, telling me I should at least try to mend things with them. I wish I had listened to my inner voice.

They now had two of us to mentally beat up on. Why did I name him after that character, why were his eyes so big and his feet so small? Why didn’t his hair lie down. Why didn’t he sleep through the night…and more of the same for me. After a couple of months, I couldn’t take it any more, and I left. Just packed up our things and returned to the little place I had come to call my home.

They made occasional visits, and I think they expected to find me failing, wanting. Their favorite tune to sing was No One Will Marry a Woman with A Small Child. It was all right with me, I didn’t need a man. I could provide for the two of us just fine. I didn’t need a man to complicate my life and try to run it for me, and I had the perfect child, I didn’t feel like I wanted another. I was content, Embry was flourishing and all was well in our little world.

My parents both passed away in 2005. They never knew what became of Embry, how he had grown into a tall and handsome young man, how he held a place of honor in the tribe and community. How he was gentle, loving and understanding with all people, one of the first to encourage and nurture.

It was a last slap in our faces from them, to leave before his true calling and potential were fulfilled. But, to our credit, we never dwelled on them or let their negativity change how we lived. We became better and rose up, instead of staying on the ground where they tried to keep us.

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