Nancy Smith gives me hope like no other. And in case you didn’t know who Nancy Smith is, she’s the single mother who raised professional dancer and actress Jenna Dewan Tatum; Channing Tatum’s wife.
But Smith is more than just the woman who gave birth to Dewan Tatum. She is also the woman that Dewan Tatum raves about as being the role model that made her who she is today.
“I’m very nurturing as a person and I know absolutely it came from you,” Dewan gushes to her mother in a video released by VH1 and PEOPLE magazine this week. “I was smothered in kisses and also I would say, there’s a really strong sense of independence you had when I was growing up that I think I sort of took on. I was around that energy and so I am super independent and I enjoy that. I got it from you.”
In the video, Smith listens proudly to her daughter speak, and then wastes no time jumping in to credit her single mother parenting style to her daughter’s success. “I think the nature of me being a single mom, we were buddies and we did everything together,” says Smith. “Every moment with her was special.”
As I watched the video earlier, I began to tear up, because being a single mother myself, I often question how much damage might be done to my own children by raising them in a single parent household. It seems as if everywhere I turn, I’m being bombarded by the statistics of crime, teenage pregnancy, and depression that often accompany children raised by single parents, and to say that it scares me would be the ultimate understatement. As every mother can attest, we all go through periods of doubting our skills as a parent, and when you are parenting alone, that feeling can be exacerbated by not having a partner to assure you that you are in fact, doing alright.
So to hear someone like Dewan Tatum — who has clearly done so well for herself in life — credit her single mother for making her who she is today … well, those are the stories that I think we need to hear more of.
Those are the stories that I need to hear more of.
In the interview, Smith goes on to explain that the teenage years were rough with Dewan Tatum. “An alien came, left someone that looked like you, spoke like you and they took the real one away,” she joked. “But at 18, they finally brought you back.”
Dewan Tatum in turn, insists that despite her rough teenage years, she is the person and mother that she is today because of her own single mother.
“You gave me a good sense of confidence about myself,” she continues. “I think about that a lot now, just in general raising kids and girls, because there is so much [to deal with and support] about self-confidence and their body image and you were so amazing with that. Any time, as a teenager, I’d complain, ‘I wish I had this or that,’ you would say, ‘You are beautiful just the way you are. Those are your gifts and that’s the way you came out and you should be happy with that because it’s perfect and awesome and amazing,’ always just super encouraging with me. Thank you.”
Wow. Hearing those words as a single mother is nothing more than powerful.
When Mother’s Day rolls around in a couple of days, and I sit back and watch my co-parenting friends getting pampered for the mothering work that they have done all year — and I’m left sitting here without a partner and wondering if the job that I’m doing is enough — I hope I can feel just a bit more assured because of them.
Because although I can’t always give my kids what co-parenting mothers can, I can give them something special and unique to our situation. Something that will cause them to look back one day and say, “thanks Mom. I am who I am because of the kind of mother that you were, and you did right by me.”
Because as a mother, single or not, that’s all we really want for our children anyway.
You can catch the full clip of Jenna and her mom Nancy right here on PEOPLE.com.