Do your children miss you? I didn’t realize quite how much mine did until this week.
When I was little, my Mama often sent love notes along with my lunch. The notes wouldn’t be long lists of the ways I pleased her or why she loved me better than my sisters (sorry, girls), the notes were more an indication that she thought and cared about me when I was not with her. And even though my mom hasn’t been packing my lunch for over two decades, she still let’s me know she’s thinking of me. Be it texts, emails or dropping a quick dime, she let’s me know I have been on her mind. And it still feels good.
I write notes to my kids along with their lunches. Usually quick things like, Hope you have a super day! or I can’t wait to see you this afternoon! But they always end with I love you, Mama. Always. Sometimes, I try to hide the note in with their lunch and make them search it out. Sometimes, I toss it in at the last minute. And sometimes, I forget. Earlier this week, Mooch asked me if I would sign his Lunch Love Note from our entire family so he would be reminded of all of us during the day. I asked Cub if he read the notes I sent. He said yes and that his friends always tried to snatch the note from him to read it. Timidly, I asked if it embarrassed him that I sent the notes… (Say no, say no, say no…) Yes, he said. Do you want me to stop sending them with you? No, he grinned. [One of those Mama Moments]
Cub and I decided that I could try to write his Lunch Love Notes in code using a Lord of the Rings Lego decoder… Well, I am truly a Mama of three boys. So we are going to work on the decoder so I can tell him I Love You without anyone knowing. But for now (until I learn to be a better Mama of three boys), we are going with this:
The next morning, just as he had asked, I included a note with Mooch’s lunch which read: Dear Mooch, I hope you have a wonderful day and I can’t wait to hear about all the new things you learned and friends you played with! We love you, Mama, Daddy, Cub and Zook. XOXO. I hid it inside his cloth sandwich bag and Velcroed it shut. At dinner that night, I asked him if he had gotten the note. He said he had found it and asked his teacher to read it to him. Then I snuggled it when I had my nap time so I wouldn’t miss you as much. [Mama Moment] Sure enough, I found the Lunch Love Note crumpled up in his slipper. Have I mentioned lately that I adore these children? Maybe not enough. Read on.
It’s reminding me that all too often, we Mamas spend hours per day critiquing our children. Helping them get something right, giving out pointers, requests, advice. We instruct, we make demands, we provide feedback. These are all important things for sure but I wonder if the times per day we tell them we love them or miss them match these critiques. Should it? Now that I spend some time thinking about it, we do spend a great deal of energy on correcting our children and pointing out (kindly, of course) when they have made a mistake. I am confident I tell them I love them at least… Twice… Shit. It’s a simple thing. It’s just that there are many other things that I need to say. But what could be more important than I Love You…? I think we all know the answer to that.
Now I am not talking about just saying it for the sake of saying it. I love you I love you I love you. See? Meaningless. But what about, The smile you had when you got off the bus today made my whole day better. Or, I love your hugs. Or better still, Can I have an extra hug so when I am missing you later today I remember how it feels to hold you? These deeper, more meaningful expressions of love are just that: Deeper and more meaningful. Which is exactly what I think kids need. We need to quantify love for them- otherwise they may get lost in the vastness of it. One of my favorite things to say to my kids is I love you more than all the leaves on all the trees in the whole entire world. Then I point out a tree and ask him to try to count all the leaves. I can’t- there’s too many, Mama. Yup. That’s right kiddo. That’s right.