Parenting

I come by it honestly

Katie finds that becoming a parent has deepened her appreciation of her own mom

Credit: Travis Seitler

Five days after Soph was born, my husband and I woke up after a relatively blissful night — new babe had slept for three-hour stretches, waking only to feed and be re-swaddled (oh, trust me, she isn’t perfect and this was the ONLY night in nearly three weeks where this occurred). We were well rested, the sun was shining and we had planned to spend the day doing nothing more than the laundry and cleaning the bathrooms. Oh, and staring at our new bundle in awe, but that didn’t, and still doesn’t, have to be a part of the official plan.
 
So, up there on my happy cloud, I left my husband to change and dress Sophie and I tended to the coffee making. Turn on tap. Splutter, splutter. Burst of murky brown water. You’ve got to be kidding me. Either we didn’t see the water shut-off notice or someone else in the building scooped it, but regardless we would be without toilets or taps until 4 p.m. And that was not going to work with a 5-day-old (who, I might add, had nothing to wear given that every newborn onesie that fit her was in the queue for washing).
 
Thus, our blissful day of hibernation turned into a trip down the 401 to my parents’ house to use their washing machine. Secretly I didn’t mind at all. Sophie’s Nonna and Poppa are baby whisperers. Besides that, little did I know, my mom had a present for me.
 
I should mention that I come by my Type A-ness honestly. I am a chip off of the ol’ organized, forget nothing, get the job done block that is my mom. With that in mind, it shouldn’t have surprised me when she presented me with a mason jar, the lid covered in fabric, with a label reading “Mother’s Day 1990.” It was a time capsule that I had made in grade 2, containing a book, called All About Me, with hilarious pages that said “My favourite meal is pesto” (still pretty true) and “I don’t like being pushed around” (still very true). But the time capsule also contained something else. A letter, worn in the places where it had been folded, origami-style, since I was 13.
 
I opened it, this letter written on a page of loose-leaf binder paper, to find it dated November 8, 1995. And it began, in my juvenile curly-cue script, “Dear _______, As of now, I’m thirteen years old and I know that’s probably hard to imagine but I am a teenager!” Not kidding. It was a note I’d written to my future child when I basically was one. And my mom had found it in the pocket of a pair of jeans when she was doing laundry — 16 years ago, no less — and thought it would be something I’d want when the time came. How’s that for Type A?! She isn’t a pack rat by any stretch, but the woman knows how to save the important stuff (and, evidently, present it at exactly the right time).
 
The letter went on to say many things — most of which still holds true. I would still tell my girl to “always be yourself. You are a very special person and never let people tell you otherwise. Never change for anyone but yourself.” I would also stand by “always follow your dreams. People may tease you, because they can’t see the path you want to take. Never take your eyes off of your goal, because obstacles are what you see when you give up.”
 
Hilariously, the letter does show my age, as the last paragraph reads “Always appreciate movies! I love going to the movies and right now the most recent movie I’ve seen is Now and Then with a star cast (especially Devon Sawa!). He was a famous star and I will show you this movie if I haven’t already.” My current self cringes at this reference in an otherwise quite poignant note, but at the same time, it allows the messages to ring true as well. I was 13. It was eighth grade. I hope Sophie appreciates that when she gets to be that age.
 
The letter, which contains other things that are just between me and Soph, is signed “If I have anything else, I’ll tell you in person (which is a long time from now!) I love you. Love, Mom (now that sounds weird!)”
 
And it’s still a little weird. But if I can be what my mom is to me — in saving this letter, among so many other things — it won’t be weird at all. And if a little water shut-off always brought this kind of blast from the past, I’d take it happily, clothing-less newborn and all.

Photo by Travis Seitler via Flickr