I got a random instant message today from a former student, Mona, who I’m still connected with through Facebook. I’m so grateful for these long-lasting connections and I relish the honor of watching the “kids” I once taught grow into their adult selves. She’s now a mom, struggling with sleep and finding balance in her life, and so proud of her gorgeous child. She is a fierce mama-bear, and her baby is so lucky to have her as a nurturer and protector.
I was inspired to write an earlier blog post over a year ago (see Strong Women) when she was the catalyst in connecting me to another mama-warrior, a photographer, mental health survivor and advocate, who published her own virtual magazine (work of art) in the wake of the emerging pandemic. I’ve learned that artists always find a way to create, and I strive to emulate that truth in everything I do.
The message that popped into my notifications this morning said this:
I’m reading your book. Just got to the part about raw chicken and half cooked Lima beans.
I have tears just streaming down my face. I feel the love and loss and everything in between. I wish I had a chance to meet her in person. But you are giving me (and so many others) the chance to meet her through your words. There is so much energy and emotion behind every damn letter of every word.
I think I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up ❤️
I want to be your mom when I grow up! I want [my child] to feel about me how you feel about her. It’s funny where we are conditioned to look for heroes and role models – TV, sports, fantasy etc., but the real heroes are among us. And your memoir proves that.
Well. If that doesn’t make my heart swell, nothing will. As I’ve also learned from teaching, positive feedback is everything. Sometimes, when you make yourself vulnerable and put yourself out there, you wish for your efforts to be good, correct, useful, helpful, (and hopefully) inspiring. When your efforts are randomly validated, there is a quiet, deep breath that you feel. While we shouldn’t necessarily do things for the approval of others, I think it’s a human instinct to want some validation. Otherwise, why do we do anything that involves others?
Mona and I engaged in a little catch-up banter, exchanging stories and pictures of our kids. She marveled at my teenage women, who are the age she was when she was in my classroom. Her gorgeous baby is now just about one, and she is experiencing just how fast things move when you are a new parent; how much life changes and shifts, and just how unstable you can feel in the wake of your kid’s development. Based on the photos and videos she shared with me, I think she’s doing just fine.
If Mona, who is up to her eyeballs in mommyhood, can find inspiration in the stories about Ronnie Sue, I know that others can as well. My hope is that Mom’s lessons can reach far and wide.
What Ronnie Sue Knew is available on Amazon books.