Remember Me

My children returned to school last week. And there was a moment. One that nobody but me noticed. The kids at our bus stop were scrambling onto the bus, darting down the aisle to find a seat, and my son and daughter were the last to walk up the stairs.

The scared smile

The scared smile

“Hey!” my husband yelled, iPhone poised to take one last photo.  They turned around and my daughter had what I call the smile of fear. In the photo, you can see she is looking off camera — at me. My husband snapped the picture and she turned back around and was gone.

The other parents left the bus stop and my husband and I headed home. What I wanted to do was grab my stomach and howl, to drop to the ground and cry hysterically. But I kept walking in silence. I couldn’t possibly tell my husband, who already finds me refreshingly imbalanced, that I had just fast forwarded to the end of my life.

The scared smile before the ballet recital

The scared smile before the ballet recital

What haunted me that day wasn’t that she gave me the look, because I’ve seen it before. What haunted me was that, for the first time, I wondered how many more times in my life I would see it. It’s a look that says I don’t want to leave you and I’m sort of scared, but I have to be going now.

I will see that look when she leaves for college, and I will pray she has an amazing journey that involves far more friends than frat boys, far more personal growth and self discovery than alcohol.

I will see that look before she walks down the aisle and I will pray the man she is walking toward is half the man her father is, that he truly sees and understands and loves her, and that he will know I will gladly kill him if he hurts her.

I will see that look when she is carrying her own baby and I will pray she listens to the wisdom within her and that she doesn’t constantly doubt and criticize herself like her mother did.

And I will see that look when I am an old, withered woman, and the fear in her eyes will be because of me, because I will appear to be a shadow of the Mommy I once was.

And that is when I will pray she remembers. Remembers how I read her her favorite books until we had memorized every line, how we played Barbies until I wanted to scream, how we named every stuffed kitty and doggie and dollie Lily for an entire year, how I let her wear band aids as anytime fashion accessories, how I made her take ballet and be in the recital even though she said she was too scared, how I told her she was kind and intelligent — not just pretty,  how I knew exactly how she was feeling and what she needed before she spoke, how my legs were once strong enough to carry and chase her, how there was a time when my hands didn’t shake and my perfect vision could read her mood across a crowded room, how my hair really was blond, how I could  jump and scream and sing louder than the other Mothers.Snapseed

How she thought I was beautiful. How she said she wanted to live with us forever. How her Daddy and I openly adored each other and hugged and kissed and danced in the kitchen. How she cried in bed at night, worried we would die like other people’s grandmas and grandpas and how I told her not for a long, long time.

I will pray she remembers. All of it.

Because today when my daughter got on the bus I was struck by the knowledge that one day, many years from now, if my life goes as I pray/plead/beg it does, I will be the one staring at this beautiful inside-and-out woman I loved so much it kept me awake at night, and I will be the one with the look that says I don’t want to leave you and I’m sort of scared, but I have to be going now.

Until that day, I pray I remember. All of it.

 

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87 comments on “Remember Me
  1. Adair says:

    As one who is often on the other side of that smile for children, I can tell you that for your beautiful girl, it usually turns to a big, bright smile of joy.
    I love the smiles your children bring me. Each and every one of them.

    • Shawn Benefeil says:

      You have me in tears over here. That is the most well spoken feelings a mother can ever have. You are a wonderful mother

    • Netti says:

      Most mother’s share those memories with you; something, no one can take away. I have not physically lost my daughter but she has left to live a life that is not healthy for her. I’ve never wanted to leave her, I strive for a relationship but she has such sorrow and anger in her, that I do not see that loving, mother-daughter bond ever happening. She’s nearly 50 and I doubt that her weaknesses will ever allow her to love her mother. I will die with a broken heart because I could not heal hers.

      • Liz says:

        I too have a daughter that I thought I might lose too, about 20 yrs. ago. She was in another state and her life was in a horrible state of living. I just couldn’t let go. I continuously stayed in touch. Even on the days she was so angry, with everyone and everything, she would yell, scream at & insult me. I just kept telling how much I love her and how I support her 100%. This went on for awhile. She hit rock bottom!! She went for help. It took quite awhile!! I still didn’t know if she would come back. Well, it didn’t happen overnight. BUT slowly & surely, with love & encouragement we are 20 yrs. down the road. She is an amazing mother of 1 daughter, who I would lay my life down for, as well as hers!! She is loving and caring and smart and again, I continue to love & support. Today I can even have an opinion other than hers and we are ok. It can’t hurt to try. Love & Support!!! What can you lose? I’m 73 now and it was all worth it! Good luck, I wish for you what came to me….

  2. Kathleen Kaminski says:

    Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Hope the day goes well for all!

  3. Erin says:

    Beautifully written. I have those same feelings, hopes, and fears, as I’m sure all mothers do. Made me cry.

  4. Your story brought tears to my eyes as I remember my daughter today in what would have been her 46th birthday. She was robbed of life, marriage and babies but never of love; she was a victim of crime at the young age of 20. I am so glad you wrote about your daughter and the memories that all mothers will share and cherish until we too must move on…for without those precious memories, we will have nothing after they go off to live their own life or, as in my case – the life in the hereafter but embraced by a loving God. Thanks for helping me to remember that look as well…the one that said, “Mom, I’m scared but I have to go.”

    • Jaye Watson says:

      I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. You just made me cry. Thanks so much for reading.

    • Gina says:

      Mary Beth, I know that same pain. I, too, lost my oldest son to tragedy at the glorious age of 16 yrs, 51 weeks. Just before his 17th birthday. It was me with that scared look in my eyes, saying, “I’m scared, but I know you have to go.”
      With every passing year, every grandchild, gradution, death, life event, I wonder what Daniel would have been doing now. Making good memories that last lifetime is most important. Sharing the love only the FATHER puts in us all. <3

      • Jaye Watson says:

        Gina, I’m so sorry you lost your son. Thank you for your beautiful words.

      • Gloria says:

        Your child doesn’t have to leave physically to know the pain. My son had a massive head injury at 21. I always wonder “What If”. But then I gather my resolve,revel in the Love, look for strength form the Lord and return to “What is”.

  5. Vivian says:

    Wow! You could not have said it more clearly that, I am sure, will touch every mother’s heart. As I get older, I think of all these things. You gave me my cry for the day! I love you and your “beautiful” writings!

  6. Oh gosh – darn it – you made me cry – I am going to print this out and pin it to my wall to remind me to remember. All of it.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thanks Joanna. I was wrecked last wednesday, and I sobbed while I wrote this. But then I felt good. I obviously needed a slap in the face reminder.

      • Liz says:

        Thank you so much for your writing today. I saw it on someone else’s page and couldn’t help but read it… I am a mother of 3 with 5 grandchildren. Oh boy do I remember those days!! The first one was soooo hard. She cried, I cried. I picked her up early. Oh, this was preschool. Like a rehearsal…. It didn’t get any easier with the next 2 either. Now they are parents and they GET IT!! Thank you. Where else are more of your writings? And where are you located? If you don’t mind answering… I like the way you think!! Thank you again, Liz

  7. Jill Becker says:

    My 93 year old mom is slipping away, so reading about a mom/daughter relationship brought so much to mind for me. While I don’t ever want to lose her, I’m comforted by the fact that we’ve always loved each other with all our hearts. We’ll always have that, as will you and Iris. Thank you for a profoundly beautiful piece..

  8. Martha says:

    So beautifully written. Such love!!!

  9. Karen McCrea says:

    When I took my son to college last week for his freshman year, I realized the tables had changed. It was MY look that was “I don’t want to leave you and I’m sort of scared, but I have to be going now.”
    And, yes, I cried too.

  10. Kim Schulman says:

    Ai, yi, yi… not to read while on pain meds! Beautifully written. I will share it with my sister-in-law – one day I will have to introduce the two of you; you would really get along. She lives in Annapolis, so if you ever get back that way, let me know. Might I recommend “The Mother-Daughter Dance” – by Jeanne DuBose. A poignant coffee table book about the relationship between mothers and daughters. Love reading what you write! xo

  11. ellen crooke says:

    oh I will treasure this blog…as my daughters leave for college and my mom ages… your beautiful way with words has summed up all that is going on in my heart these days. Wonderful, Wonderful

  12. Gladie says:

    That was beautiful. Ok Indonesia crying now!

  13. Trudy Kremer says:

    Brought a tear to my eye. Love you guys. So much!

  14. Kelly Deushane says:

    Beautiful Jaye. Makes me feel really guilty because as my girls got on the bus all those many years ago, mostly I was just looking to make sure they had on 2 matching shoes. And, there was the one time one of them forgot her undies and the other one announced it to the whole bus! This was in the pre-blog era so I do have an “essay” about that lively day!

    • Jaye Watson says:

      I want to read that essay Kelly.

      • Yvette Botamer says:

        Jay I want to thank you because you helped me think of more memories to talk about at my mother’s memorial tomorrow. She passed away on July 29, 2013 and we were pretty close for many years until she got dementia and alzhiemers, i have delt with alot of deaths in my life and to think of them being in a better place. HEAVEN it helps to cope and to go on. Yes, i have alot of good memories, with my mom. I have 2 boys and those same looks i got from them many times. They are heart renching. But they are a must to go on. It truely was hard for me to see her slip slowly away……little by little she got worse and worse i was getting to the point where i couldn’t go see her. But i was there at the last moments of her 87yrs, and her last breath, and her last heart beat. She raised her hands and then they fell. I new Jesus was there or an Angel came down the stairs for her.

  15. Chris DeVinney says:

    Loved that. Crying over here. I’ve had a few moments lately where I see so clearly how soon my girls will fly from the nest. I know it will happen sooner than I expect. In then meantime, I’ll hug them as often as they will let me (now that they are heading into their tween years). Love you guys!

  16. Jeff Hullinger says:

    Let me be the first male comment but not the first male to read this. Very moving Jaye. Jeff Hullinger

  17. Marla Shavin says:

    That was one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever read. You nailed it! The look, the fears and above all, the love. Well done!

  18. Jo Roy says:

    I’ve been helping my 93 year old Mother for 12 years since Dad died. Although I’m getting weary, your beautifully written words reminded me so poignantly of the 80 years she loved me unconditionally … 12 years doesn’t seem very long.

  19. Ian says:

    And I thought I was the only one sensitive enough to see that moment (from my kids). simultaneously sweet and gut wrenching. Beautiful job summing up the thought process that transpires from that brief look. More evidence why Kenny doesn’t like editing anything without your written touch.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thanks Ian, you’re very kind. And Kenny and I just finished a piece together yesterday — my favorite thing to do.

  20. Janet says:

    Love this!! I’ve seen that look before too. But it’s the triumphant smile that I also remember – the one that says “I did it Mom!” when they got home that first day, or after a big game where they did well or accomplished their goal. I still love that look, even at 19 & 21.

  21. Jeanine says:

    Thanks for the morning cry!! Beautifully written. I can’t even think about those moments of Ryan growing up. It painfully scares me!!

  22. donna says:

    Beautiful!

  23. Stacey E says:

    wow. Yes, you made me cry as well. Since I’m an older mom, I think of this so often, probably too often with my boys. Like you, I pray I stick around for a long time to teach them things in life and to take good care of them. Until then, we make memories… lots of them. You’re a GREAT mom Jaye!

  24. kathy dingess says:

    beautiful, I am away from 3 of my kids due to drugs the state is taking care of them for me while I take care of their children, reminded me that things were not always this way , and how much I will always love and remember about each of them, they are adults now and should understand , how hard it is to watch life pass them by , for us, there are a lot of different ways to leave someone, my hope is that they can recover and be the people god intended them to be , before either my mother myself ,my husband or anyone else that they love says goodbye, thank you for the reminder to check my heart, tears and prayers for the future, god bless you

  25. Anne says:

    I’d have to say as lovely as this sentiment is, I burst into tears as I am completely overwhelmed with guilt, feeling sad and out of control with having so many little children to manage all summer long and not having the opportunity to play with the older ones like you have because there is a baby who needs a diaper changed, a nap or mediating between children fighting over toys. I know I will feel both sad and relieved when three of them get on the bus in a couple of weeks. I just wish it wasn’t all or nothing–everyone home all day or most of them gone all day. I know I will feel regret in years to come. I am just trying to get by each and every day. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Anne, not one of us is a perfect mother and I regret ALL THE TIME how they make me crazy, how I can’t wait to be alone, how I can’t wait to put them to bed. And the second I’m away from them, I miss them. Hang in there. They will get older and it will get easier.

    • Liz says:

      Wow, your life does sound a little over whelming at the moment! The key being “this moment”. Not exactly your story, but there was a time when I was a single parent, 3 teenage children, and always a demanding job. More jobs only because I was always trying to make ends meet; due to “lack of child support”. The whole child rearing and financial aid was up to me. I used to feel like I was Dancing as fast as I can!!!! One day after all 3 were out of the nest, the final one on this particular day. I kissed goodbye, I shut the door, had a sigh of relief and then cried!! I was lonely, sort of for the future. Eventually I did get used to it. That was the first time one of them moved home….. haha that is another story… Try to enjoy the moment! All of the children will understand later on….

  26. lris M says:

    That was so beatiful ..missed a lot of 1st of my 3 sons an my daughter due to a divorce…their father made me sign the papers 3 days in to a seperation I was in the mist of a post partum nerveous break down. I have a good relationship with them all now an my daughter an I are very close. ..I remember so much of things I did get to share nothing can compare to the love of your child …thank you for that wonderful article. .

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thank you Iris. I’m glad you are close to your children after everything you’ve gone through. Just love them love them love them. They’ll be good. Best to you.

  27. Chana McComas says:

    Jennifer,
    Lisa posted this on Facebook and it is simply beautiful!
    Becoming a mommy at 42, I embrace every moment, every kiss, every new word, every quirky development and, of
    course, every look…knowing 1 day I will long for all of these
    treasured milestones as he grows up. I’m aware that
    mommy/son time will fade into
    new friends, sports, school, girls…
    I will be blessed with the
    precious reminder of those
    kisses, hugs…and “the look.”
    I’m so thankful I read this blog. What a wonderful message! Your children are very lucky to have such a wonderful mommy!
    -Chana

  28. Noreen says:

    Wow. Just Wow. My baby is all grow up with a baby of her own now. This brings back so many memories of the looks I remember so well.
    You have grown into an amazing person from that little, all legs and arms, girl I once knew.

  29. Beth Galvin says:

    Wow. You can write like nobody’s business, girl. What a beautiful post. You made me cry! And I don’t even have children! Beautiful, Jaye

  30. maude says:

    that is so beautiful. it just brought tears to my eyes. my oldest son is leaving for college and you captured all the joys and sorrows and the bittersweet moments of parenting.
    wow!! you have an amazing talent.

  31. Lovely. Makes me excited for babies. And scared. And sad. But, that’s okay…

    🙂

  32. Jay says:

    Wow! Just wow! I’m not a crying man, and I cried like a baby. Having just lost my mother in January and my boys starting school this week too, these words hit me like few words do. Wow!

  33. Dawn says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful essay. Now that we have a son who is living on his own and a daughter soon to follow, it strikes an even deeper chord. This one’s an eloquent keeper!

  34. Jan Bassier says:

    Beautiful ~ a phrase from a book that helped me in the “letting go” process with my five kids, was the reality that upon their leaving, whether in a college dorm, a new apartment, marriage, or another way, there will be that one “moment of great grief” – the feeling you wrote about, wanting to howl your misery out. Those come and go as they keep leaving ~ and still today, when my kids, ages 21-35, drive away or get on the airplane, I have one great moment of grief, and then – as you also said, I feel better. I’m glad I love them so much that their leaving hurts – and glad that they still want to come home or be together as a family when we can. They’re all over the country – Seattle, Las Vegas, D.C., and one is in heaven. And the first grandchild is on the way – what gifts!! The book that helped me is “Give Them Wings” by Carol Kuykendall – excellent thoughts on allowing them to leave – and why it hurts. Thank you so much for your writing!

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Jan, FIVE kids, God Bless you! One moment of great grief — that’s exactly it. I’m going to look for that book. Thanks for reading.

  35. Si Mathison says:

    That was such a blessing. Having faith as deep as the ocean that we will always remember these things and our kids will too. It was my first time to read your blog and it was really inspiring. Thanks and God bless.

  36. Bonnie Trina says:

    This was the MOST TOUCHING story ever; I got all choked up and almost cried; I printed it and gave it to my mother to read and told her “Here Mom, read this touching story, it is about you and me”!!! She is reading it as of NOW! It was such a moving story and the writing was awesome! Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts!!!

  37. Oh my goodness! You wrote the words on my heart! I saw this link on a friend’s FB page and followed it. So glad to know another momma is feeling the same thing and that I’m not nuts. I just posted about it this morning…although no where near as beautifully as you did.
    Your children are precious!!!!
    God’s Peace!!

  38. jeni says:

    I saw this splashed all over my FB feed today. I finally took the time to read it and WOW. This was more than just a good story or a great topic with a strong opinion. I’m getting tired of reading those motivational posts about cherishing moments before they’re gone.

    This was so much more. Moving and poignant and honest. I am so glad I took the time to read this post. Well done.

  39. Erin says:

    The most beautiful thing I have ever read. I just came back from my daughters kindergarten orientation and am now a crying mess at my desk because I just got the same look from her as she was walking away to meet her teacher and take her first bus ride. LOVE IT!!!

  40. Jane Stephens says:

    I stumbled upon your entry because a friend on Facebook shared it. Last week we drove our daughter 15 hours across the country to Oklahoma for graduate school….first time she has ever left home in her 24 years of life. This past January, my mother, of 48 years, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m kinda scared and I don’t want to leave you, but I have to be going now and I know where I’m going.” Reading this brought more healing to this aching heart. You write beautifully! Thank you!

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Oh Jane, what a year of goodbyes for you. Your daughter, at the beginning of it all — your mother at the other end. Thank you for sharing that — made me cry. And thanks for reading.

  41. Karen says:

    This really touched my heart and made me cry. Through your words you have said what’s in my heart..

  42. Diane Jaehne says:

    What a beautiful written piece about life’s changes. It really touched my heart as my mom is slowly slipping from us. She is pretty much confined to her room unless there is company. She lives with terrible pain everyday and her mind is starting to forget things. She was only 20 when I was born and has always been my best friend and confidant. We can no longer shop together and go for lunch. Our time togeher is so very precious to me but I miss and long for the “old days”. I cherish every memory we made and am grateful to God that I still have her with me. She is 85 and I am almost 65. Thanks again for a beautiful story written from your heart.

  43. Otismaximus says:

    As a beautiful and sweet daughters’s Daddy this was very very sweet. Thank you for putting such beautiful thoughts into words! God bless!

  44. Katie says:

    She will remember all of these important parts and more. Thank you for sharing this with us. We do not know each other and you have touched my heart.

  45. L says:

    This was a such a beautiful piece. I am not a mother but I don’t think you have to be to really enjoy this post. It brings you back to the relationships with your own mother, if you had a good. I am sharing this with my mom. Thank you.

  46. Elizabeth says:

    BEAUTIFUL…sitting here crying my eyes out. 🙂

    THANKS so much.

    Elizabeth

  47. Hello, from another paint/antique retailer, whose followed you on Facebook for a while. This was my first visit to your blog and what a treat it was! Bitter sweet memories. It all reminds me of how short our mortal visits here on earth are. Thank God for children! And for great writers like you!
    Cheers!,
    Barbara

  48. At least I think you’re Fox Hollow…or maybe you reposted? Oh well. Still great!

  49. Barbara/Tazmanian Mom says:

    Loved your blog post today about putting the kids on the bus. I have gone thru many moments like that with my , now grown , children. However, my experience with the first day of school was a little different. I put my very busy,active 4 1/2 year old boy on the bus that first day of kindergarten. As the bus pulled away from the stop I had an overwhelming outburst of joy, did a happy dance (like Snoopy) in the middle of the road and then strollered back to the house with my 1 1/2 year old little girl. Four years later, we took them both out out of school to homeschool them until graduation. I missed them too much.

  50. Jenna Anderson says:

    Oh, my darling dear, what a lovely thing to write, to remind all of us in the “crone” stage of life how truly magical mothering was! I am wondering if Alzheimers will one day take me away, and if that happens, I am absolutely sure that my children and the love we have shared, will be the last thing to go. There is no stronger bond than that of mother and child. And it takes a very strong man to understand that bond, respect it, and continue loving that mother the way he did before the children arrived. Love is such a giving thing, constantly giving, like these memories. Bless you so!

  51. Debbie says:

    THAT is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    I am sending you a drop box link to a song.

  52. Beth says:

    Love this! Beautifully written

  53. Sue says:

    I needed this today. I am the mother in the middle of it all. On one hand I watch my daughter struggle trying to have a baby, watching the fear in her eyes that it may not happen for her. On the other hand, I visit my beautiful mother every day in the nursing home wondering if today is the day she will leave us see my father who passed six years ago. I needed this today, you have given me inspiration in writing her obituary. I will make sure all who read it will remember what a wonderful person and mother she is/was. Thank you.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Wow Sue, you really are in the middle. I’m so touched if this helps you with your mom’s obituary. Prayers with you. Thank you for reading.

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