Little Notes

I blame my husband. He started them thinking about the notes.

One afternoon my four year old girl asked why I hadn’t put a note in her lunch.


“Daddy puts notes in our lunch.”

He’d been leaving notes on napkins when making their lunches in the morning: Have a great day. I love you. Love, daddy.

When I make them the night before school–no notes.

One morning our six year old forgot her lunch at home, so my husband ran it over to school on his way to work. When I took out the half-eaten contents later that day, I found a note that read: Sorry I forgot your lunch. I love you, Daddy.

And the six year old wrote back to him on a corner of the original note: Thank you.

That note is pinned to the bulletin board above my laptop still.

The six year old often leaves me notes, as well as questionnaires. When we fight at bedtime, she comes out with a piece of paper, at the bottom for me to circle are the words, Yes and No. In misspelled children’s language reads: Mommy, circle one if you will ever leave us. 

I have tucked among the many books next to my bed a recent note she wrote me after we discussed one weekend what it will mean when she goes to college: I love you mommy. I like every thing you do. I will or might stay nearby or not when I grow up.

Then one night after a particularly difficult bedtime during which I screamed and threatened and cursed, and they cried and laughed at me and cried some more, I was feeling horrendous and guilty and ashamed. I wanted to tell them how sorry I was we fought at bedtime.

I left them notes at the table for the next morning. The younger two can’t read, so the six year old read the notes to them. Each one gets his or her own short message: I love all the questions you ask me, and how you know so many things. Love, Mommy.

“Look Mommy left us notes!” I heard them scream the first few times they saw their names on folded paper by their chairs at breakfast.

And when I don’t, my son comes into my room, “Mommy, did you forget to leave us a note?” (Yes, sometimes I do forget.)

Notes have become what we do for each other. The younger girl did her best to sound out her way to an apology note this weekend: Daddy, on one side; Mommy, on the other. I’m sorry for being mean to you.

Our evenings are often hard as we squeeze in dinner and baths and homework and bedtime in a few hours. There is no way to undo the chaos once they are in bed and asleep, yet I spend much of the night wishing I could. These little messages, and the generous nature of mornings, give us all permission to begin again.




This entry was posted in Family Life, It's All About Me, New York City Living and Coping, Parenting Moments, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Little Notes

  1. i LOVE this. Grace leaves me notes too, and so does Whit, and I save them, a little pile of what looks like scrap paper to the naked eye but is in fact my heart itself. They are apologies, they are thanks and celebration, they are questions (I get the yes or no – though usually with a box to check next to my choice – pushed under my office door). My favorites are the surprise notes they leave often by my bed or at my desk. I love that you are swimming in notes too. xox

    • oh my goodness they are the funniest and sometimes the heart achey-ist. But yes, the surprise ones next to my bed or — in my face — in the morning are the best! and If I don’t pick a choice, Molly will always pick one for me. that “will you leave us” started as a tear to my soul, it was so shocking and sad, and now she pretty much brings that out any time I yell I them… sigh.

  2. Jenn Weston says:

    Wendy, my dad used to leave notes for me when he made my lunches. Simple words that mean the world. xoxo

  3. Isla says:

    I love your family’s notes- little time capsules of love and apologies. What a treasure to have and what a wonderful practice. Things seem to mean more when they’re written down. Your children are very blessed to have such caring and humble parents! I laughed when you found out your husband had been writing them. Mine brings our daughter flowers on the days he picks them up at school. They always ask me why I don’t. :]

  4. Rachel Cedar says:

    This is beautiful way to connect with your kids Wendy. It obviously means so much to them too. Thanks for sharing. I love this.

  5. Lara says:

    I can relate so much to this! My husband was the first to put notes in our daughter’s lunch box too. And our evenings are often chaotic and I lose my cool more than I’d like (and feel guilty afterwards). It’s comforting at least to know I’m not the only one. 🙂

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