I don’t talk about my mom nearly enough. If you would have asked me five years ago if we were close, I would have told you no, we aren’t particularly close. I’m not exactly sure when that changed, but it did change, for the better. As an undergrad at Michigan State University, I used to marvel at the girls who called their moms every day. It confused me. On one hand, I wanted that type of relationship with my mom; on the other, I loved my independence too much. However, if I didn’t call every Sunday, I would be tracked down.
Now that I am older, I am grateful for that independence, although I can’t imagine it today. I do talk to my mom almost every day now. My parents were more concerned when I was commuting and taking classes at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) a few years ago than they ever were during my years at Michigan State. I find it funny and fascinating. I think I understand it though. My parents still had my sister and brother at home. They were still dealing with sports activities and whatever trouble my brother decided to get into that particular week. Still, I would never go as far as to say that I had a difficult relationship with my parents, even when we didn’t talk all that often. They just let me get on with having fun in college – and I did.
As a teenager, it was common for my dad, brother, and sister to watch TV together in the living room. My mom and I would watch something else in my parents’ bedroom. I would lounge on my parents’ bed while mom would get her clothes ready for the next day, etc. One of our favorites happened to be Ally McBeal. At times, we would have some great conversations too.
During one weekend home during my sophomore year at MSU, such a scenario took place when I needed my mom’s advice most. At the time, I felt as though I had to choose between semester long Spanish programs in Spain or Ecuador. How was I supposed to choose between the two? I didn’t want to have to make that decision. I wanted to do both. I asked my mom what she thought. All she asked is that I be home for Christmas. It worked. I found a way to make it work without delaying graduation. I never forgot my parents’ support of that decision. I also learned to be flexible and find a way to do what I wanted to do – on my terms.
Shortly before my mom retired in 2010, I learned she dreamed of writing children’s books in retirement. Considering her career as an elementary school teacher, it isn’t surprising. What surprised me most is: 1. I never knew that my mom wanted to write at all. I thought it was my dream alone, and one I didn’t share with many people at the time. 2. I didn’t learn this from my mom, I learned it through a mutual friend. Shocked, surprised, and happy, we began working on her children’s books together. She wanted my input and help polishing them.
Here’s the problem: I am way too close to my mom’s books. I love them. I know exactly where she is going with them, and I love the fact her books are based on part of a writing curriculum she used in her kindergarten classroom. We both need to get writing again and finish getting those books ready to submit. Every time we work on them, I fall in love with her books all over again.
I love the process that we have working together. It is fun working with her and bouncing ideas off one another. We can usually come to some sort of agreement or even come to the same conclusions. I hope we can eventually get to the point where we are comfortable submitting them for publication. It is time.
The funny thing is that I can just hear my mom reading her books to groups of kids. As a child, there was nothing better than her versions of Sesame Street books. She is great at making all of the different voices necessary to make a children’s book come alive. Grover and the Count are still favorites with her grandchildren. I can’t wait to hear her reading her own books in front of a crowd eager for more.