Inspired by my friend Cathy Michaud, I am putting a heart on each of my kids’ doors for every day in February. On the hearts I write something I love about them.
As you probably know, I was away from the kids for more than six months due to my successful battle with lymphoma, so I wanted to do something special, something meaningful for them to remind them that I’m here, I’m here to stay and I love them. Beyond that, though, being away has given me a little distance on the kids and I feel like I’m looking at them with fresh eyes. These kids are not perfect, not even close! But for an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old, they’re pretty great people with a myriad of talents, ideas, and activities. These hearts also serve to remind me of the things that make them special – to me and to others with whom they interact. And it shows them specifically that they are valued by their dad and me. I continue to be grateful.
There are definitely days when I feel sorry for my kids. Having a writer for a mother cannot be easy. At ages 9 and 12, they have not yet discovered all the places where their lives are exposed for the world to see and on which to make comment. Not only do I keep a regular blog on which they appear often, but I write monthly for “A Hopeful Sign” which is more of an e-zine devoted to messages of hope, optimism and beauty and they’re often the focus of the stories. I have written about Bailey in a magazine called Asian Jewish Life and I had a two-page spread a few years ago about both kids and my observations about their Montessori classrooms in the official magazine of the International Montessori Association, Today’s Child. Sometimes little blurbs about them appear in my academic writing since I test out so many of my pedagogical theories on them first. When I give speeches, I tell anecdotes about them, and in my classrooms, all of my students invariably know a lot about what the kids are doing. Admittedly I used them as entree for lessons.
It is my choice to self-disclose in a public way. Bailey and Sydney, however, have not made this choice – their public mother has made it for them. Actually, at this point they still like it somewhat. They feel famous. I haven’t yet mentioned to them that the venues in which I publish aren’t quite national news and that their fame has a limited readership.
Oh, there are a lot of things I don’t discuss, including the kids’ schools, friends, doctors’ appointments – those are strictly tabo0. As they move into teenage-hood, I imagine the list of “don’ts” will increase by their demand. I have already heard, “Mom, are you going to write about this?” I wasn’t sure of the mood or motivation of the question.
But for now, the kids are my best fodder. They interest me, and it is a challenge and a goal to make their escapades and adventures interesting to potential readers. As a writer, I’m always looking into real life for interesting ideas in both fiction and non-fiction. Of course my family is my first go-to for material. And hopefully, thirty years from now, after years of very expensive therapy, both of my children will be able to talk easily, if not disparagingly, about their mother the writer.
Nobody loves you like I do, Kid.