Sitting in a prison visiting room in the fall of 2008, my mom grabbed my hands and told me through tears that she wanted me to get pregnant. She had been gone for about a year at that point. I looked at her like she was crazy. Why would I do that? Why now? She had three more years if nothing changed with her legal case. But she would eventually come home – and then I could have a baby.

As an only child I knew my eventual procreation was high on her priority list… but as were currently in the middle of fighting every day and in every way to prove her innocence, as she sat in prison 800 miles away in south Texas, and as I thought I might be losing my mind and life as I knew it, I resisted the idea (adamantly). And then she said:

“We need something to hope for. To plan for. To live for. You, and Steve (my step-dad) and Jason are all so miserable about my being here you might as well be in here with me. You have to move on; you have to keep living.”

And just like that the wisdom and the selflessness of the strongest woman I’ll ever know came to the surface. Knowing she would miss this very special moment if I was fortunate enough to get pregnant on her schedule, she still wanted that for all of us. What seemed like an unreasonable “request” (OK, borderline demand) was actually her giving me permission to think of myself and my own little family in the midst of our chaos. And to move on – even in her physical absence. It was a heartbreaking moment.

Jason and I got pregnant that winter. And I won’t pretend it was easy for me. My mom missed my baby showers, missed helping me decorate the baby room, missed Ava’s birth on September 30, 2009, and a whole lot in between. But – she was right. It gave us something to plan for and hope for and, ahead of what I thought was our schedule due to our situation, I received the greatest gift of my life.

[I should note that a whole lot of other women stepped up in her absence to make the best of the situation and to take care of us the best way anyone knew how to given the circumstances. I will never be able to repay them nor will they ever know how much that meant to us.]

I haven’t always listened to my mom (there’s a novel on that topic, a blog will never do) but I am so thankful I let her convince me on this one. I look forward to spending this Mother’s Day weekend with my mom and my daughter and husband. Hosting a golf tournament, watching Ava play sports and spending time with the sun on our faces – something I’ll never take for granted.

With Gratitude and Hope for the Future,


Founder, Ava’s Grace Scholarship Program
Mom – CEO – Justice Warrior

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