On a scale of one to truly taxing, last week was off the charts. You may not know this, but Jalisco’s government opened up the possibility fo more on campus opportunities for students after announcing just weeks before that we would remain closed until August. I bet a person could almost hear the creak, like that of a long unused pivoting knee joint, as every administrator, teacher and parent started to plan for these changes.
On Friday evening, the weekend before we were to begin, I schlepped myself home the way a parent of a household of teens brings home the bags of groceries for a week’s work of meals. I walked in the door feeling tearfully grateful for Ubereats, who had arrived minutes before me, allowing me a hero’s welcome.
I managed to make my way upstairs where I faceplanted into my mattress and decided this was as good a place as any to manage my pit crew (aka family) for the rest of the weekend.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But that doesn’t change the fact that Friday night did not find me lacing up my dancing shoes.
The room changed from afternoon light to evening dark, and I hadn’t moved much. My kids came in to ask me questions from time to time, and I tried to respond, but I truly hoped that this wasn’t the day that they wanted me to solve a Big Problem. When you have teens, Big Problems tend to crop up when you least expect them.
When my daughter came in the room, my Mom Hackles went up slightly, because moms can sense a change in the energy field of each child, even at a distance. If your child is within texting distance, you know when something is amiss, even if the only text they send you is one. single. emoticon. You can fit a whole lot of angst into one crooked-smile emoji.
She approached the bed and snuggled up beside me. I pulled her in and did the hair pat, hoping that a wordless moment of solidarity would suffice, because my current brain level was still set on Drain. She told me that she had just read through the journal I had kept for her when she was a baby, and she wanted to talk about it.
It’s true, I kept a written journal for both kids when they were babies. I did it for about a year for each one. I did it because I wanted to remember all those moments that you always think you’d never forget, but you always do. I also did it because I knew they’d want to know more about themselves when they grew up. And, most of all, I did it because I was so in love with them, their father, and our family that I had to put it all to paper just to read it back to myself. Yes, I was That Mom. I wanted to wrap myself up in the words, to feel over and over again how wonderful it was to be the mother to these growing, changing, fascinating people.
I stopped because, after children start walking, there is no time and no energy for anything besides cleaning bits of food from your hair and trying to keep the children from caving in their own heads on the corners of everything.
And now, whenever my daughter feels down, or needs a break from the current reality, she pulls out that journal and reads it over. She came in my room and let me know that the journal made her feel loved, and happy, and downright overwhelmed. She told me she could just feel how much I loved her in the way I celebrated everything she did (what’s the big deal about a baby rolling over from her back to her front, mom, I mean, really?).
Once I started a parenting column in the Tribune and then the Mirror, I continued adding my articles about my children to my personal blog. But those journals are love letters from a young mother to her miraculous, hilarious, amazing little babies, written in her own hopeful hand.
Before my daughter went back to her room, she asked me one more question: did I ever get sad about how fast she was growing up and leaving those baby days behind forever? I said yes, sometimes. But mostly I just feel proud, because, even though I have always been amazed by her, I am also so deeply impressed by the woman she is becoming. She hugged me again and left.
When you have things to say to your kids, but they aren’t around to hear them, or they are too young to understand, write them down. You will not regret it. I didn’t have a lot of coherent words for my daughter that night because I was tired after a long week. I’m grateful that I took the time to write down some important ones all those years ago. Now my children know how to find them and know they are loved.