1000 Miles

Decades ago a young father opened his heart and his home to two small girls. Due to a series of tragic events these two girls had found themselves thrust into the foster care system. This young father forever changed the landscape of my mother-in-law and her sister’s childhood.

I had only met this man once at my wedding. I had also never talked much to Connie about her childhood. To a degree there was a separateness between me and the history there. I didn’t know this void of understanding existed until I traveled 1,000 miles to take my children to meet this young father who had become an old man.

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To spend those 4 days and see the connection Connie had with this man who had profoundly affected her life was a gift.

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We spent hours together. We laughed. We shared meals. We told stories. We had fun.

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It took a thousand miles of road for me to learn this history that is Connie’s heritage and witnessing their pure and strong bond is something I will never forget.

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Kia Motors offered to lend us their Kia Sedona Mini Van for the weekend so we could fit all 7 of us for the trip down there. Oh man… they say once you get in a minivan, you can never go back to a regular car. Well, I don’t know if they actually say that, but this had reclining seats, a touch-close door and the front seats were so comfy for our long ride. I couldn’t get over the joy Steve and I experienced having the two older kids in the third row seat. We could actually have full conversations. Bliss.

Thanks so much Kia for helping us make this trip possible. I put this little video together of the journey.

 

Catching the Moments Before They Fly Away

Life.

Sometimes the moments are flying by and I am just trying to catch them before they flitter away like a tissue on fire.

One day I come home from work and Phoebe looks to have grown 5 inches and her face shape is suddenly that of a young girl rather than the baby I put to bed the night before.

Chloe is graduating from 5th grade tomorrow. She is wearing small wedges, getting her nails done and iMessaging her friends while working on art for hours. She just wrapped a full year of dancing 4 times a week culminating in two weeks of performances. She has more persistence and patience than I ever had.

Ella is has turned from a girl who hated to read into a young student who is reading and working above grade level in all subjects. She has become proficient in gymnastics and never stops moving until she crashes at the end of the night.

I’ve been married to my husband 15 years come June 10th and we are still in love and he is working tirelessly to complete our house renovation.

We just got approval to cover! Meaning we passed our electrical and plumbing inspections.

I cannot wait for this renovation to be over. I need a kitchen so badly. I have gained 15 pounds.

Time is marching on, my thighs are getting bigger, my kids are doing well and overall I think I am doing a good job of keeping everything rolling in the right direction.

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Writing and updating this space here has helped to keep me grounded to the whole process of motherhood, adulthood and just my general need for a creative outlet. It’s served to help me keep track of all these passing moments in the hope they won’t be lost somewhere forgotten.

Somehow taking a picture and writing a few words makes it real. Of course that’s not true, life is real. My children are real. My house is real. My friends and family are real. My love for my husband is real. But I’m sure you know what I mean.

Everywhere around us are tools to help us keep track of the passing moments. Those tools can be our trap or those tools can set us free.

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This blog to a degree has set me free. It has served as a guide through these past 3 years of change and I have landed on my feet.

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Thank you for reading. At times it feels self-indulgent to even write all these things, but I know for some of you this blog has brought you joy, so I will keep posting from time to time when I have a few moments to slow down and get it all out.

xoxo from San Francisco,

Jen

 

I Wonder If He Knew

I flew out of Phoenix on Saturday and while making my way through the security line I noticed a young man ahead of me receiving his first ID check from a 50 year old blonde woman.

He stood there silently looking forward pretending he didn’t know what was happening to him.

She stood there talking into her walkie-talkie checking to see if the ticket he had handed her was a fake. She was verifying his flight existed. She had a veil of politeness about her, but underneath you could feel it. Her bigotry and judgement was pulsing through her veins under the guise of trying to keep us safe.

Of course his flight existed. The confirmation of that came over the speaker and she let him pass as if she was doing him a favor.

I moved forward in line and had a much different experience. The man who checked my ID was gracious and kind. He smiled at me and after a quick check of my ID pointed where I should go.

I moved through security quickly with a pat down around my belt which was done in an apologetic fashion. I was regarded as if I was important. I was regarded as if I mattered. I was granted a certain amount of dignity.

As I was gathering my things I overheard another TSA agent talking into her walkie. “He’s a 5’7″ male.” I turned around and there he was again. He was looking forward and pretending he didn’t know what was happening to him. This seemed to be something he was used to. There was no frustration. There was no rage. He just silently cooperated just like I silently watched.

Two TSA agents were around him this time and ushering him off to the side to pat him down and verify who he was.

In that moment I felt like I should have said something, but fear and circumstance left me silent. I tried to make eye contact with him. I wanted him to know someone noticed what was happening to him, but he stood there pretending like nothing was happening.

Is this his normal life? Is this what happens to young boys of color? He was not black. He had brown skin. He was dressed nicely enough. His hair was neat and his face clean shaven. It seemed every singe TSA agent was made aware of his presence. This polite young boy was a threat. He should not have existed.

I wonder if he knew.

So what did I do in this situation? I was reduced to a Tweet.

I didn’t stand up for him. I didn’t take it upon myself to point out to these fearful agents that their deep seeded racism was actually inhibiting them from doing their jobs. All they saw was color. That didn’t make me feel safe. White people do bad things too.

I thought about that boy my whole flight.

I wonder if he knew.

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Chloe painted this for me after I told her this story.