Notes all around


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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  1. Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    I love these. I get them too and they just melt my heart every time. Caroline has started writing me notes when she is both angry and then apologetic. It is so interesting to read them together and see that crazy wide shift of emotions these little souls are experiencing right now…

    admin Reply:

    Definitely the apologies … and you’re so right, that once the smoke clears it’s fascinating to read them. xoxo

  2. Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Oh, I love those little notes and drawings, too! I love how this could be a powerful way to continue communicating as they enter adolescence. lovely post, and lovely images. Enjoy your summer, mama. xoxo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! I hope you have a wonderful summer, too. xox

  3. Posted June 12, 2014 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Ooh, I cannot wait for my kids to be old enough to write me notes!
    My husband sends me emails with funny pictures, and occasionally leaves me notes that are supposedly from the kids (he writes with his other hand with misspellings) – I love those!

    admin Reply:

    That sounds hilarious and wonderful! xox

  4. Posted June 12, 2014 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    One of the pleasures of emptying out every drawer in my house for our renovation has been finding things like notes and pictures my kids wrote and drew, that I squirreled away and hid from myself. A complete delight to find them, love them, and box them up for now, to be redistributed for my future delight, when we move back in. I also have a whole batch of notes from my kids that came on the grocery list on the refrigerator, which was another classic communication vehicle at our house. My guys live elsewhere now, so the equivalent of the notes we share are mostly texting and instagram. When your twentysomething son sends you a photo and says, “This reminded me of you,” you melt a little bit, still.

  5. Posted June 12, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I, too, am a note writer and keeper. I have piles and piles of notes, in my purse, in my calendar, in my box of special things, in my drawers… I have sticky notes in my cabinets, and on my desk in the den. They are so beautiful, and a snapshot of what our life feels like.

  6. Posted June 12, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Loved this, Lindsey. I wish I could say my teen still write me notes, but that time has passed for now, I’m afraid. What they do do is text, and occasionally I’ll get the ‘I love you’ or ‘thanks for everything’ or a smiley face blowing kisses…I’ll take it! I kept all their notes from childhood, and pull them out every once in awhile. I had one hanging in my classroom that my daughter wrote just when she started to put words together…and she called me ‘Jen’. I love it.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, that pulls at my heart to imagine. It’s only a moment between when they just start to write and when they text, isn’t it? Sob!

  7. Posted June 24, 2014 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    So sweet! My 5-yr old writes notes to me as his way of making up if we’ve had an argument. They look a LOT like the one you posted from Grace. He does the hair the same way for girl stick figures. 🙂 Beautiful post. I hope mine keep writing me notes as they grow up like yours have been.