Lightbulbs and Mama

Photo by LED Supermarket on
Photo by LED Supermarket on

There’s a famous story about a young Thomas Edison, the boy who would become the man to go on to invent the lightbulb, was one day sent home from school with a letter for his mother, Nancy Edison. The story goes that the letter stated that Thomas was being expelled for “Mental Deficiencies”, but instead of letting Thomas know that, or hear that, she told him that it said he was gifted and in need of special schooling, so she began to home school him.

In actuality what historians believe happened and have proof of is that Thomas attended a one room school with 35-40 other children and his teacher did indeed report that she felt his brain “addled”. In todays context that could very well equate to meaning he was being labeled as ADD or ADHD, or some other variation of a potential learning disability. His mother than pulled him out of school and did indeed began home schooling him.

Thomas later in life would say that, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

What makes this story, the fact version and the fiction, is that irregardless of how it all went down Nancy took Thomas’ education into her own hands and empowered her child. (And ultimately when his passion for the sciences exceeded what they could aide they scraped together the money and hired him a tutor.) What greater job does a mother have than to believe in her child? When the world doubts our child because they don’t conform to societal norms shouldn’t it be our job to say maybe the norms are wrong? Clearly in Thomas’ case it was. Simply because a child doesn’t succeed in a certain environment doesn’t mean the child is the problem. And right now I’m extremely thankful Nancy held this belief because otherwise I’d be writing this by candlelight.

And for me, that strength and dedication to your child is what makes Nancy Edison a Badass Mama.