Dear Mom

Posted: September 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Extended Family, Firsts, Kindergarten, Milestones, Miss Kate, Mom, Other Mothers, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Parenting, Preschool | 19 Comments »

Dear Mom:

So Kate started Kindergarten last week, and Paigey started preschool yesterday. And I’m dying to talk to you about it. Damn it.

Anyway, maybe through the Cyberspheric Alternate Plane Afterlife Postal System (CAPAPS), this letter will make it to you, wherever you are.

Not to be harsh, but the truth is that with you gone for more than five years, I’ve gotten used to having birthdays, Mother’s Days—even Christmases—without you. A sad fact.

It’s not that I don’t miss you. It’s not at ALL that. I’ve just kinda gotten used to you not being here. Resigned myself to the fact that you never met my girls.

But then one morning last week Mark and I were standing on a playground watching Kate line up with her new classmates, her sparkle-heart backpack nearly the size of her, and I was struck with such a cutting pang of Mamaness. My own Mamaness.

My little baby Kate was suddenly such a big kid. Which made me such a grown-up Mom. Which, in turn, made me want my mommy.

Mark and I were all teary as Kate-o trooped in with her class. She, of course, was smug and confident. Locked and loaded. Ready. She didn’t look back at us once.

Afterward I was trying to think of what it was that made me well up, because in the steel-willed way I no doubt got from you, I’ve always secretly looked down on the preschool parking lot criers. The weak women who can’t deal with their kid going off to school.

Butch up, ladies! Kids grow up. And school is fun.

The closest I got in my emotional deconstruction was the realization that my teariness came from being proud of Kate. How confident and funny and creative and wild and sassy she is. And sure, how much I love her.

But I give myself little credit for her dazzling Kate-ness. It’s like these kids are born and are already, well, who they are going to be. Did you think that? I mean, you had twice the daughters I do, so your sampling is far more scientifically valid than mine.

Anyway, Kate’s been LOVING her school. She’s all algow about it. She sometimes shares parts of her day, but a lot of it she seems to guard as this special thing that she just wants to ruminate on and enjoy herself. (Which obstructs my obsessive smother-mother tendency to want to know. Every. Single. Detail.)

But God, I was kind of a basket case in kindergarten, right? I remember crying and crying for you, and all the other kids were totally chill and happy to be there. Not to make excuses, but I think it sucked knowing that you were right across the street. All the kids who lived further away didn’t have the ease I did of imagining themselves back home with their mamas. From the playground I could sometimes even see you outside gardening.

How long DID I keep up the tears?

As I sit here now, on my sunny porch (on a white wicker chair you’d totally approve of), I’m bracing myself for becoming The Parking Lot Crier next week when Paige’s preschool really kicks in. Yesterday and today they required that one parent stay with their kid. We all took staggered breaks away (I’m on one now) so the teachers could see which kids really crater.

I’m kinda doubting whether it makes sense to have Paige in preschool now. Makes sense for me, that is. I mean, she’s my dumpling! She’s my sidekick. She really IS my baby. And aside from the ghastliness of missing her, with her not home I really should be doing something useful with my time. Like weaving our clothes, or spackling the tub, or assembling photo albums for each child starting with their conceptions. Or hey—here’s an idea—making some money!

Right now I could list three-hundred reasons why Paige should wait another year for preschool. But I know she is ready and happy and will love it. And I can’t let my own shit—sorry, issues—get in the way of her good time.

YOU were always so good about not letting your emotions interfere with what we did. You led the Dry-Eyed Mom Brigade at school drop-offs. You didn’t flinch when I went  to college 14 hours away (12 hours if speeding). And I was the last kid to leave the nest. You never guilted me about coming home when I’d get the chance to be adopted by rich friend’s families for fabulous vacations.

So what I’d really like to know now is, was it that you were really cool with it all? Was the stiff upper lip no act? Or were you just the dutiful Mama bird, nudging me out of the nest ’cause otherwise I’d never fly?

If you could please send me some sort of sign to indicate the answers to these questions, I’d really appreciate it.

Anyway, as we pulled up in front of the house yesterday, after Day 1 of preschool, Paige announced, “Me no need you, Mama. Me big girl now.”

Did you hear me wail from whatever cloud it is you live on these days? Did you hear my car nearly take out the front shrubs as I tearily tried to park? Did you hear me walk around to Paige’s car seat and say, “Now YOU hear ME, Missy. I’m 43 years old and I still need my Mama!”?

Then I sat down on the curb and cried.

Anyway, if you could ever swing by for a visit, I’ve already planned out the day we’ll have. It just consists of us sitting around my house, drinking tea, and watching Kate and Paige play. And me asking you every two minutes, “Aren’t they great? Aren’t they so cute? Aren’t they just the best?”

I might also have you tackle some tough clothing stains I’ve been wrangling with. So don’t wear anything fancy.

Love you, Mama.


19 Comments on “Dear Mom”

  1. 1 Lori said at 11:03 am on September 10th, 2010:

    Brilliantly written, and incredibly touching…As I am sitting here crying at my computer, I am hoping that the CAPAPS gets this to your mom with all due speed. Much love from VA….

  2. 2 Kelle said at 11:29 am on September 10th, 2010:

    I’m crying too. The most wonderful letter a mother could receive.

  3. 3 kristen said at 11:46 am on September 10th, 2010:

    Aw you gals are too sweet. Thanks for the sweet words.

  4. 4 Kendra S said at 12:36 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    My mom always takes the stains out of everything too. This was great. I’ve already told my boss I want you to blog for us… I think this will make her want you to even more.

  5. 5 Lisa said at 12:48 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    Ok, now you made me cry. You are such a good mamma, your mamma would be so proud. xoxo

  6. 6 kristen said at 12:50 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    my mom’s stain-fighting could kick your mom’s stain-fighting ass, kendra. i mean, like if she were alive and stuff.

    but seriously, i’d love to get another bloggin’ gig, so get out there and promote me! :)

    and let’s eat a lot together some time soon.

  7. 7 kristen said at 12:51 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    no, lis, YOU da mamma.

  8. 8 Mark said at 1:17 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    Aw, honey. This is wonderful, one of your best.

  9. 9 Chris in va said at 1:27 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    Great writing, My wife and I are getting ready to adopt a baby and this story really pulled at the heart strings. My mother passed away when I was 5. I’m not a overly emotional person but this made think back to a few memories I have of my mom as well as look at myself as I get ready to become a dad. Again great story and Im glad I joined your husbands twitter for the apple conference coverage!

  10. 10 MJ said at 2:05 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    Loved, loved, loved this post. From reading your blog I’ve gathered that you and I have lots of random things in common: I was born on May 10, lived in RI while in college, live in Oakland, sent my eldest child to preschool for the first time this week, and lost my mother from cancer this past April. All that to say…your post really hit home in a very personal way. I can’t tell you about how often I pray that there really is a heaven and that my mother is there waiting for me. I routinely send messages to her via prayers and choose to believe that she gets them. I don’t know if it’s actually working, but believing so makes me feel better.

  11. 11 Megan Bibbo said at 2:11 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    Oh Kristen, I just love you, she said, sitting at her kitchen table tears streaming down her face. I think your Mama had a moment or two of sitting on the curb crying – she just wanted to be strong for you, so you wouldn’t worry. I’m betting she was strong like you. I know it’s not the same, but I’ll share my Momma with you – she’s really good about admiring all of the things I think are wonderful about my kids – not much of a tea drinker though…

  12. 12 Dsturtz said at 2:12 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    Wow! You got me crying too. Think I’ll make up with my mom now (tiff last night). She and I thank you.

  13. 13 Kristen Badgley said at 6:50 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    Amazing. Thanks for sharing such a genuine love story with us. (wiping smeary tears from my jet lagged face…)

  14. 14 Nell said at 3:08 am on September 11th, 2010:

    Loved it- hugging my kids and calling my mom right now. You are giving your daughters a wonderful chance to know you, and your mother, through these stories.

  15. 15 Maury said at 9:24 pm on September 12th, 2010:

    Wow. This was so moving. And so synchronistic. Ten minutes before reading this I was having a I-so-wish-my-mom-were-to-share-this-with moment. Earlier tonight at dusk, Rhys let himself out into the backyard and I found him standing completely still at the edge of the patio, in footed pajamas, staring up at the sky, totally transfixed and delighted. He looked at me and pointed upward, could barely contain himself, “I see the moon!” Like he was the first to discover it. It was such a Moment. And it broke my heart…

  16. 16 fab said at 1:00 pm on September 13th, 2010:

    I am sure that your every act and thought are the direct result of Mom..extraordinary and beautiful….

  17. 17 kristen said at 12:36 am on September 16th, 2010:

    no way, MJ! we are living parallel lives! too funny.

    so sorry to hear you lost your mama to cancer recently. totally brutal. hang in there.

    my guess is that however it is you are talking to her, she’s hearing it. my mother died a few months before my wedding, but she told me, “whatever happens, you know i’ll be there.” and you know? she totally was.

  18. 18 kristen said at 12:40 am on September 16th, 2010:

    thanks, nell! and david, and kristen, and megan! didn’t set out to make y’all cry, i swear.

    and maury, that story is just too sweet. you’ve got to write that down somewhere.

  19. 19 Mary said at 8:07 pm on October 3rd, 2010:

    Ugh -so fucking sweet and so damn sad. I welled up, and laughed. It is just simply awful that she never got to meet your two gems. I LOVE you writing to your mom -I get a glimpse into who she is/was. I want you to do this more. I have a feeling some of those grief books that you tried to off at your yardsale with the purchase of a exer-saucer would have said to do this. So it works for both of us. Love you tons. xoxoxo

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