Several weeks ago I read a wonderful piece by Wendy Bradford post about the small notes she and her children leave each other. It made me smile, because this is a way that Grace, Whit, Matt, and I communicate too. The themes of the notes have changed over time, but we have always written small missives to each other.
There are the notes in the lunchboxes, yes. I don’t write them every day, but I always do when I’m traveling for work and sometimes otherwise, too. I have a pad of little jokes that I sometimes put in their lunches, too. I’m not sure when they’ll be embarrassed to have a note from their mother in their lunch, but not yet, so I’ll keep going. Last week I wrote the last lunchbox notes for 3rd and 5th grade and, yes, tears came to my eyes as I did so.
Some afternoons I have a babysitter who picks the children up from school and brings them home. Often, they come home to find my office door shut, if I’m on a conference call or talking to a client. Almost every day, Whit writes a note with a question and slips it under my door. There’s always a place for me to respond, whether it’s “yes” and “no” with little boxes next to them or a blank line for me to fill in. These always make me laugh.
There are the apology notes, which often come from Grace these days. She will get mad about something, pout, and later, write me a note apologizing and explaining. What I have to learn to do is not to react in the moment, and to trust that the resolution will come. The truth is I worry someday (and soon) it won’t come, and that fear animates a lot of my reactions. Whit writes them sometimes too, including the time he told me that he loved me more than Legos and books combined (and made a Lego flower to go with the note).
And then there are the love notes. These are, of course, my favorites. Grace writes poems and cards, though the frequency of these is dropping (something I wrote about in This is Childhood: Book & Journal: Those Precious Early Years). The most recent one that touched me had, in large writing on the front, “Thank you for working so hard!” Sometimes they are formal “letters” – Mother’s Day (the envelope of one of which is featured above, from Whit), birthdays – and sometimes they are just little scribbled notes on pads of paper on my desk that I happen upon. Like the note above and below.
One of my fiercest wishes as my children get older and move into the challenging tween and teen seasons is that they keep talking to me. These notes seem one way to keep that alive, and while they’re minor, each represents the desire to say something, to connect, to be heard, and for that I am grateful. As I keep learning over and over, life is in the small things. These tiny missives, angry, apologetic, loving, or funny, are small and big. I hope Grace and Whit keep writing them.
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