I walked into the kitchen one morning this week to find a carefully folded piece of paper propped up on the counter with “Mother & Father” written on the outside in our oldest daughter’s careful script.
“Why is she addressing us like a Jane Austen character living in 18th century Britain?” I wondered. “And what could possibly have been so important or difficult to talk about that it had to be written out longhand and snuck downstairs after the rest of us had gone to bed?”
I always approach notes like this with some trepidation. Is this going to be the moment where she tells us she is running away? That she skipped school all last week to tour with a band named Satan’s Monkey? That she has decided to become a vegan?
I started unfolding the note anxious to see what curveball was about to be thrown my way. I was relieved when I saw, in the bubbliest bubble letters a 15-year-old girl can produce, “My Birthday Wishlist,” followed by 12 bullet points detailing every last thing this girl has apparently ever wanted. Satan’s Monkey was not mentioned anywhere, thank goodness.
I looked over the list with amusement and relief. Lucy really doesn’t have any huge demands; her list was filled with things like watercolor brushes, books, cute journals and cozy sweaters. The one extravagant thing she listed was an iPhone, next to which she wrote in parentheses, “But I don’t think that will happen.”
Correct. I’ve learned a lot about my kids – and myself – through notes they’ve left for me, slid under my door or handed to me before abruptly walking away.
There was the time I had spent an entire Sunday bathing children, wrangling little boys at church and preparing dinner and had finally laid down next to my husband for a short nap only to be interrupted by our then-6-year-old son handing us a note:
“Dad, you are awesim. Mom, you are las-e.” My husband very wisely ushered the little ingrate quickly out of our room. There was the helpful note left on the fridge one night by my kids when I was miserably overdue with Baby No. 6: “We love you mom (P.S. Go into labor!)”.
Our oldest son handed me a full sheet of paper years ago, his little boy handwriting scrawling out, “Mom I luv you no madr wut.” I can’t remember the details of what precipitated that note (probably some mommy tantrum by yours truly), but it is framed on my wall, precious in a way that no piece of art could ever be.
Which leads me to this final note given to me in 2013 by then-6-year-old Jane: “Dear Mom, I love you dearly. You are like gumballs. You are like dogs. You are everything to me. You are a blueberry. You are gold and pretty. Maybe too pretty.”
Aside from that last part sounding like a veiled threat, I lapped up every word of that note. Jane reeeeeally liked gumballs at that point in her life. She looooooved dogs. To be compared to either was taken by this tired mommy as the highest compliment.
I’ll keep these notes forever safe in a box in the basement. The ones that made me laugh (P.S. Go into labor!), the ones that made me cry (OK, just a little bit when I was called las-e) and the ones that made me wonder (how, exactly, am I a blueberry?) – they all open up a window into my children’s minds and hearts.
I hope they never stop passing me notes. I hope they never stop communicating. I hope they know that I never want to stop hearing from them – no madr wut.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and random menagerie of farm animals. Her view of family life is firmly rooted in Spokane Valley. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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