Jenna’s Oprah moment

Here is a sweet story about Jenna Fischer from the May issue of O magazine.

If any of you have a scan of this article, let me know!

Tipster: Sarah

Jenna Fischer’s Aha! Moment

During a year of living defiantly, the Office star discovered evidence of her parents’ own flesh-and-blood vulnerability.

I’m very open and emotional with my friends, but I’ve always been less than expressive when it comes to my parents. I’m a good friend, a devoted wife, generally happy and well adjusted. I’m aware that I have my folks to thank for this, but it’s just never been a natural thing for me to be, well, gushy with them.

At no time was this more apparent than when I was a senior in high school. I, like so many of my peers, thought I was smarter than my folks, and ready to make grown-up decisions. But like most of their peers, my parents were still imposing curfews and (what I considered) horribly restrictive rules. I hid out in my room a lot, which would usually inspire them to force me to clean it.

One day, as I was sulking and clearing out a dresser I didn’t use much, I discovered a keepsake drawer where my mother stored things from my childhood: a program from a school play, ancient report cards, some old dolls. I thought it was nice that she’d kept these mementos, but I thought most parents did, so it didn’t strike me as a big deal — until I came across a brown leather datebook from 1974, the year I was born. It was a small, unremarkable thing; each day had just a couple of empty lines to write on. But when I started leafing through it, I saw that it was filled with short messages in my mother’s and father’s handwriting. “You tried strained peaches today and you loved them! Do you still love peaches?” And “You wouldn’t stop crying today, third day in a row. Thanks a lot.” The book was blank for a week here or there, but then something would compel one of them to add a comment like “Today you tried on your Easter outfit. It has little bunnies on it and you look so cute! I can’t wait to take you out with the family.” They’d written notes to the future me.

As I read, I realized for the first time ever that my parents were human beings. It had honestly never dawned on me that the people responsible for incarcerating me in my bedroom, who forced me into manual labor of taking out the garbage, had once been two kids who were overwhelmed and excited about having their first baby. And they adored me. To see that kind of humanness in them at a time when I felt so disconnected from them was deeply affecting. I could have hugged them immediately, told them how much I loved them. But I didn’t. In my own, subtle, teenage way, I just … appreciated them more.

I have kept the datebook in that drawer ever since as a reminder of how much my parents did for me, how much they love me, how much I love them. I think about it often, especially now that my husband and I talk about having kids of our own. I didn’t tell my mother and father about finding it until years later, and I never let them know the impact it had on me — it’s still easier for me to write about it in this magazine. But I think of it whenever they’re driving me nuts, because it reminds me of all they’ve given me, and helps me start from a place of love rather than irritation. Of course, I still revert to acting like a teenager when I go home for Christmas. It’s a diary, not a magic pill.

— As told to Rachel Bertsche

23 comments

  1. Just when I was tearing up, she made me laugh with that last line, “It’s a diary, not a magic pill.”

    Too sweet. Gotta love Jenna!

  2. haha, jenna’s thinking of having kids? really?!

    I wonder If they will tie that into the office storyline. Like maybe Jim knocks Pam up and she gets pregnant.

    cute story though!

  3. Omg! What a wonderfully sweet article! I enjoyed reading it very much. As someone posted on Jenna’s blog, she has a great writing voice, and it shows here. It’s really heartfelt and I admit I teared up a bit. I loved the part where she mentioned that after she read the journal, she could have gone to her parents with grand proclamations of love like hugs and kisses, but instead, in her own personal way, just appreciated them more. Of course, loved the touch of humor in that last line. Thank you so much for sharing the article, Sarah and tanster!

  4. Aww that is such a sweet story. It makes you only love Jenna Fischer more. I love the “A-ha Moments” section in O Magazine.

  5. That is a very sweet story.

    I think when we are teenagers we don’t realize, or care that our parents had decades worth of a life before we came along.

    It’s okay though, they get their vindication when we have our own kids who feel the same way for the first 20 years, but Grandma and Grandpa kick ass.

  6. Awh, this is so cute. She’s obviously very humble and down to earth. That diary was a great idea for her parents to start. And when I read about them wanting to have kids, I melted. Can you just imagine little Jenna’s and James’ running around their house? haha.
    Oh, me and my imaginative mind. =]

  7. that is such a sweet story. jenna is such a cool person and that was amazing that her parents did that.

  8. How sweet is this? I was never very gushy with my parents either (and can relate to reverting back to being a teenager sometimes when I’m around them), but it’s so sweet that they made that journal for her. I got a little lump in the throat. My mom keeps all of our stuff, too, and is very sentimental, but a journal like that would be so cool. How thoughtful of her parents. :)

  9. alright, jenna is officially one of the sweetest people ever. i fricken almost cried, and then chuckled at the last statement. i wanna be her best friend.

  10. Jenna is such a genuine, sweet person, and this article brought tears to my eyes. Makes me adore her more than I already do. We love you Jenna!

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