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Dear Jo: When Nothing May Be Something

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April 20, 3 years A.B. (after-baby)

Dear Jo,

Today was a weird day. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s something. But you really don’t want your mind to go in that direction, so you’re choosing to go with nothing.

When Nothing May Be Something
After breakfast, Emerson dumped out his train track (why he can’t just leave it in the container and pull out one piece at a time, you’ll never understand). It took him a few minutes to build a track. Then he gathered his favorite trains and cars, lined them up, connected them and started chugging them along the track. A few minutes later he stopped. He didn’t say anything or do anything. His hand remained on the lead engine. He stayed in the same position, leaning over the track to reach his trains. It was like someone hit the pause button.

At first you let out a little laugh. Then you called his name. “Emerson? Buddy? Are your trains taking a break?”

No answer.


Then he shook his head and resumed pulling his trains. You called his name again.

“Huh?” he said, finally looking at you.

“What are you doing?”

“Playing with trains.”

“I know. But why did you stop?” He looked at you confused. “A few seconds ago, you stopped. Were your trains resting?”

He didn’t know what you were talking about. You wanted to ask more questions. You wanted to pursue the conversation, but clearly he didn’t know what you were talking about. Then you remembered the other night at dinner.

You were all sitting around the table eating. Emerson was telling some story about the day, about playing with Emily’s son Joel on the playground. He was telling about racing down slides and playing tag around the play set. Then he stopped. Mid-sentence, he paused. You looked up from your pasta to see him staring blankly at nothing. You and Paul looked at each other. Then you looked back at him.

“Emerson?” Paul said. Both of you let out a laugh.

“Yeah?” he said, looking at Paul. You could see the confusion in his eyes.

“What’s up?”

“So, Joel…,” he tried to continue with his story, right where he’d left off, but Paul interrupted.

“You stopped talking. Why did you stop?”

Emerson looked at Paul and said nothing. You and Paul looked at each other and shrugged.

“Guess he just spaced out for a minute. Did he nap today?”

“He did, but it was short because we were meeting Emily at the park.”

And that must’ve been it. He didn’t get his full nap. He was tired from playing with Joel at the playground. It was just a strange blip of a moment, but now all was back to normal. He was eating his pasta and avoiding his broccoli. His story had resumed. All was fine.

But then it happened today, while he played with his trains. You can’t be sure, but you think there was another moment when he was in his bedroom and you called to him from the kitchen to see what he wanted to drink for lunch. He didn’t answer at first. It took you asking four times before he responded. But maybe it was nothing. Maybe it was just a kid being a kid. Maybe he was distracted. Maybe he didn’t hear you. Maybe, hopefully it was nothing at all.

Dear Jo: A {fictional} Diary of a Modern Mom

“Dear Jo: A Diary of a Modern Mom” is a serial fiction story written by Meagan Church. Stay tuned for the next diary entry of one mom’s attempt to chronicle what she has been told are the days she shouldn’t forget…spit-up, tantrums, milestones and all. Visit the Dear Jo page to catch up on the already-published entries. And, be sure to subscribe today, so you don’t miss a single installment:


Have you download my free eBook “Motherhood Doesn’t Come with Sick Days…and other lessons from parenting”? Also, be sure to join the Unexpectant Facebook community today.

Motherhood Doesn't Come with Sick Days

{Photo credit: ©Heather Donahue}

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