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Yesterday was a bittersweet day for me. I drove my first-born child to the airport so she could arrive on her new college campus early. After thinking we had all the essentials ordered and packed for her upcoming move to Alabama, she received a phone call this weekend that a spot had opened in their prestigious marching band. She auditioned for the band back in the spring but was first put on the wait list. She wasn’t too surprised, as this band has hundreds of members and is highly competitive. The phone call meant we needed to try and get her on campus a few days early so she could join the band camp already in progress, leaving us to move the rest of her things later this week. As a parent, it made me so happy to see her jumping up and down with joy, as playing music has always been such a huge part of her life and she's dreamed of marching for a large university. 

As I’ve been cleaning up my files in the past few weeks, I came across a file folder called “Active Queries.” It made me laugh a bit, because it had obviously been quite a while since I updated this “active” list. I smiled as I flipped through the pages, knowing I’d made so many of the notes when my kids were much smaller. I had outlines of magazine article ideas, along with copies of e-mails I’d sent to editors and PR professionals inquiring about information to help strengthen my queries. I listed a years’ worth of fiction stories in “Highlights,” the children’s magazine, as well as topics Family Fun covered back in 2012. I found the typewritten pages of a short story I wrote for children when we first rescued our dog, Sonic. These days, Sonic moves much slower and has arthritis in his hind legs. He snores loudly under my desk, and I don’t have the heart to wake him up half the time. In this story for children, I shared the story of how Sonic found his new home, how he tried to escape by climbing a split rail fence in our backyard after his new owners scolded at him for nipping at one of the children, and how he eventually decided his new family wasn’t so bad. I wrote this story mostly for our kids and never managed to sell it, but I found it comforting that I found it a few days after that child he nipped hugged him long and hard, telling him he’d better be here waiting when she visits home for Thanksgiving. 

Finding this folder and these notes reminded me how hard I’ve worked over the years, determined to make a living as a writer but still carve out a lifestyle where I could be present in my kids’ lives. I can’t help but feel I succeeded in the most important ways possible, and I’m also so grateful I took the time to hold on to these stories and folders that remind me of the special moments when I least expect them.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and magazine editor who also produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas

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