Headline June 10, 2015/ ''' TEXT - { IN } - MESSAGING '''

''' TEXT - { IN } - MESSAGING '''

WHAT THE WORLD,  and you all,  -learn from accidental messages, would be just so interesting to tabulate.

But what a budding writer and a mother learns from these accidental messages, could be very beautiful, and very touching.

*The dedication of this ''fresh breeze of a story''  with great caring, love and respect, goes to all the students, who have lost their precious mothers*.
ONE DAY LAST FALL, I started receiving text messages from a stranger, - about a boy, whom I'll call Ollie. 

He was 5 years old, maybe 6. Blue shorts. Spiderman T-shirt. Supercool Velcro sneakers. 

The photos came rapidly : Ollie, sitting on outdoor steps, the sort you see on most walk-up Chicago apartment buildings. Ollie hugging a younger sister who obviously did not want to be hugged.

Ollie and the sister cuddling with a woman in a striped skirt, presumably their mother, although presumptions about someone else's family are neither wise nor fair. Whoever this woman was   -aunt? stepmother? adored family friend?  -it was obvious Ollie loved her.

Immediately, more messages rolled in. One from a D.C. area code about how cute they were. Another from Connecticut....''so cute!''  And  ''awww!''  from southern Arizona.

There were eight numbers on the thread, and all but mine engaged in an epic text discussion about whether or not Ollie had been nervous, followed by reminiscing by (what I assumed were)  Ollie's grandparents, followed by everyone loving everyone else so much and wishing they were all together.

I had no idea who these people where. Sending a text message to the wrong person isn't that big a deal. It happens all the time. One digit off in a 10-digit number, and our words and images are delivered to strangers. But what does a stranger do with them?

I've received multiple text messages about Ollie over the course of the year: sports events, birthday parties and holidays. Sometimes, our lives run parallel. A picture of Ollie holding a plastic pumpkin arrived while I was standing on the sidewalk, watching my son-trick-or-treat.

Other times, it's salt on an open wound, like when a video of Ollie onstage at a Thanksgiving showed up during a late meeting at work. A meeting that could have been an email. A meeting that made me miss my own  son's assembly.

As the messages kept coming, I realized that i was comparing myself to the women I assumed was his mother, in the stripped skirt. She was there when Ollie needed her. She was there to capture every milestone.

And she was there to personify, in real time, how my life might look if I made a different choice. 

I often look at other women for inspiration. After my son was born. and I was at home, buried under a Chicago winter and deep in postpartum  depression  -I watched the mother next door when the video monitors-

In in our children's room crossed frequencies, thinking I'm not alone. I scroll through social media feeds of women who navigate careers and families, art and activism, love and loss with ferocious grace, thinking:

The chain is strong. I read personal essays, looking for my own feelings in another writer's words, the shared humanity across our inherent differences. I think : Thank you for cracking the world wide open.

It's also true that despite my intellectual understanding of how ridiculous it is to compare ourselves to other women, I still sat there in my cubicle at work, losing my mind over Ollie's first Karate lessons.

Later that day, in a faculty workshop about identity in the  classroom, we we're talking about   international biases , and the obvious became obvious. Why had I assumed that the guy in the tie was the one working outside the home-

And the women in the striped shirt was home documenting Ollie? My mind had gone their immediately, bypassing nontraditional family structures that I know to be true.

There are other questions here: voyeurism, for one. How we curate our lives for social media. And why weren't there more photos of Ollie's little sister? But as someone who, on daily basis, asks teachers to be aware of their own assumptions and then asks them to do better, I am grateful.

Surprised, but grateful that these months of seemingly mistaken messages have pushed me to interrogate my own assumptions. I can do better.

Recently, I deleted all the threads from Ollie's family. No more trespassing on their intimacy. And if it wasn't inappropriate and   -let's be real    -creepy. I'd send one single text their way.

''Dear Ollie: Thank you for making me slow down and consider the kind of person I'd like to be. There's a very famous thinker who said,  ''An unexamined life is not worth living.''

''You'll learn about him in school someday, but I bet the lady in the striped dress would love to tell you about him.

Then I'd put my phone away and sit down with my son.  

 With respectful dedication to all the Mothers in the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Cool Mother '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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