BY JENNY B
We had similar drop-off times at our daycare. You were the mom who always had cool sunglasses and an actual hair style. Our kids were inseparable in their 2-year-old classroom. They would greet each other with palpable excitement and the biggest hugs. The daycare teachers told us the girls loved each other so much that they had to tell them to hug or pat on the back instead of exchanging kisses while they played. They chose each other, and it was the purest form of baby love.
We don’t have the same social circles, and I only ever ran into you once in the grocery store. Our kids started climbing out of their seats in the shopping carts to get to one another, and we laughed. They had recognized each other before we had noticed ourselves. Being barely 2-year-olds, they didn’t talk much, and didn’t need to to be thick as thieves. I showed you this photo and a short video from the Valentine’s day party. In the video, their little eyebrows raise and they gleefully charge toward each other, swinging around with abandon on the school gym dance floor. In another short clip, they are wiggling and shaking, like a small modern dance act to the song, “Shake it off.” They were completely unrehearsed and yet so in synch. I thought about asking for your phone number, so I could send you the pics from the school party. But, you looked tired and mentioned that you had some good ones, too. So, I let the moment pass.
I was just getting to the point in my own motherhood journey that it felt like things were getting easier. I resolved that the next time I saw you I would suggest that we have a playdate/meet-up outside of the daycare. I had just found a discount on passes to the Children’s Museum.
When COVID-19 precautions temporarily closed the daycare in March, I was overwhelmed trying to balance multiple responsibilities. In the blur of thoughts about the well-being of family and friends, I wondered how your household was. It’s one of those things never to assume and to wait until you’re told, but I thought I had noticed that you may be pregnant.
When the daycare reopened at limited capacity, you didn’t return. Weeks later you and several other families have not returned. I’ve thought about asking the school director to share our family’s contact information with you. What is the protocol for this? I haven’t been sure what to say to my daughter or what I would say to you, now.
Logistically, we won’t be able to hang out at the Children’s Museum, any time soon. And, 2-year-olds aren’t great on video calls. If you are dealing with extra stresses from a job loss or related to health/pregnancy, I don’t want to burden you. I guess I just want to know if you are doing ok. I wanted to have other ‘mom friends’ and know that I am doing ok. It feels like the tectonic plates beneath our feet have shifted and that whatever I was going to try to talk about with you during a meet up in March would be so different now.
My daughter used to wake up sometimes in the morning talking about how she had to get dressed to go see Harper. Sometimes, trying to get her to go to bed, we’d name all her cousins, one-by-one, “Jacob is sleeping in his bed. Tyler is sleeping in his bed…” And, she’d contribute to the list, “And, Harper is sleeping in her bed.” I think the whole Covid-19 Stay At Home timeframe was so strange and abrupt, at such a young age for her, that she didn’t ask questions about it. Or, maybe little kids are just so used to sweeping changes and the end of eras, because they are growing so quickly. To me, it feels like that routine and the mention of Harper’s name in our house just dropped soundlessly off a cliff. I was almost afraid to broach the topic with her, in case it upset her to remember that she hadn’t seen Harper, or that I didn’t have the answers.
With kids starting back at school this week, I was reflecting on all the new beginnings and missed connections in some way. My daughter talks a lot more, now. I asked her who she played with at school, and she was naming the children. I paused and then decided to open the subject, “Did you play with Harper?” She looked at me puzzled, like I missed the memo, and said, “No, she went home,” in a way that I knew she must have been asking her teachers and learned that response weeks ago.
I hope that you are well. I hope that you are out there having a healthy second baby, if that is the path you were on. My daughter will be turning 3, soon. Maybe we can find a way to have the girls celebrate, together. I heard Taylor Swift dropped a new album in July…
8/30/2020 11:56:39 am
What a beautiful, heartfelt piece of writing. This one will stay with me.
9/3/2020 12:05:30 pm
Thank you, Karen! It's so important to connect, especially during these unusual times. Hope you are well
8/31/2020 12:19:01 am
This is a beautiful story Jenny B. It is amazing how young kids adapt to the swift and varied changes in their worlds and move on. We, as parents, oftentimes are the ones who struggle with the little losses and missed opportunities as we agonize over what could have been. We are not as resilient as our children. We are the ones who miss the connections the most. Thanks for sharing this very thoughtful glimpse of your world. Happy early 3rd birthday to your lovely little girl.
9/3/2020 12:09:13 pm
Thank you, Connie! I couldn't agree more with your comment and that of a good friend who read this reflection and noted, "The moms swirling in the COVID world without their grounding connections - The children accepting it as normal and releasing theirs."
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