By Jeanette Bradley
When my daughter was in preschool, every separation was eternal to her. Attempts to explain that I’d be picking her up again after a few hours or that I’d be nearby didn’t help. She didn’t yet have an understanding of time or distance, so pointing at a clock or saying I’d just be down the street was meaningless to her.
I started sending things to school with her. First, I created a little photo book with pictures of our family that she could look at if she felt homesick. I tucked little felt hearts into her pockets and put love notes in her lunch box.
One day, I was rushing to get us out of the house, and I forgot my usual lunchbox note, My daughter cried, and said: “But how will I know that you love me if I don’t have something from you to hold?”
I realized that my pre-reader didn’t care what a note from me said, but was looking for a tangible sign of love. In her mind, I had held that particular piece of paper, and when she opened her lunch box after the longest three hours of her life, that piece of paper still held a magical connection to my touch.
This was the spark that grew into the book LOVE, MAMA. I started with the emotional core of the story – a young child experiencing the feeling of endless waiting while his mother is away. I decided to make the main character a penguin chick, because penguin mothers leave their chicks for extended periods of time. The rest of the story grew from that point.
Years have passed while I worked on this book. My youngest is now six, but she still asks for a lunch box note every day. She understands the passage of time during the school day now, but she still craves an object that proves I exist and love her while she’s off on her daily adventure.
My hope for LOVE, MAMA is that it will reaffirm the love between parents and children, and that will help children feel securely connected to their parents, even when they are separated. I hope that you will share it with your little ones with a special cuddle.
Jeanette Bradley studied children’s book illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. She loves to imagine the journeys of the ships that visit Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. She lives in East Greenwich.
LOVE, MAMA is available wherever books are sold. Books on the Square in Providence’s Wayland Square will host a launch party and book signing on January 6, 2018, at 11:00 am. Find out more at: