I tried. I really did.
I tried to write 100 love notes here to the simple things that I noticed in the ordinariness of life.
And then we moved to Costa Rica and started to build a home in the jungle. Almost two years have passed since I started this letter writing project and have failed miserably. It will remain incomplete for now. Or maybe I will write one letter a week mixed in with other writings and observations. Or maybe I will find renewed energy and finish writing 77 love notes all at once.
One lesson that I have learned from the last two years is that everything and anything is possible. And also that plans are hard to keep when living in the jungle where Mother Nature makes up her own rules every minute of the day.
I started writing love notes to my first-born when she started daycare at 2 years old. It was hard to drop her off and go to work without some time of reassurance that I would be back. I would draw a little heart on her hand and kiss it and whisper that I had left a love note in her snack bag.
At first, I drew pictures. Little stick figures of the two of us holding hands (and with dad too sometimes). Every day I started to draw scenes of what we did together – reading a book in bed, eating ice cream under rainbows, or her dad and I swinging her between us. And I always drew lots and lots of hearts – her favourite. She spent a lot of time in daycare and then Montessori preschool so you can imagine how these notes were tied to my heart filled with both guilt and hope. The guilt of leaving her daily and the hope that these were enough to carry us.
As she got older and was able to read, I wrote simple messages, sometimes very generic like “Have a great day!” or “I love you.” Then I realized that they were starting to lose their magic because I was just performing the act out of routine and not out of connection. I began to write messages that had more context with what was happening in her life. “I can’t wait to take you to our favourite restaurant tonight.” “Good luck on that presentation! It will be great!” “Don’t forget to finish your lunch today.” And then the notes became a place to connect when there was no time to. “I am sorry we fought last night.” “I am always here if you need to talk about what’s going on.”
That was my first experience writing what I felt and what I saw as a mother. I wasn’t journalling. I was writing these little pieces of my heart on scraps of paper sending them in the pocket of her lunch bag, never really knowing if they were going to affect her day in any way shape or form.
But they affected me.
And so for almost two years now, I have written little. I took many pauses from blogging and I also stopped writing in my morning pages, my journal, and in my Book of Hours. I wrote bits on Instagram when family and friends messaged me looking for updates. I couldn’t open up my heart like I did when my eldest was little. (And I just took a look at my banner above and I think it may need a little update. Talk about not wanting to accept change.)
We moved into our home on January 8, 2018. (Our experience in the first 6 weeks in our off grid home is another blog post.)
After that first month home, I felt the urge to write again. I realized why I stopped. Life was too real. The many shades of grief was too real. I had never in my life gone through a transition like this with people who trusted that I knew what I was doing. I needed to fully be present with our experience so that I could learn how to create a new container for our family that changed in shape, in place, and that had to be bridged over distance. I had to be in the dirt and muck of my life. It was a total shit show. I couldn’t keep up with the change and the chaos and the arrivals and departures. To stop and reflect would have stopped me from being in the mess and I probably would have wanted to clean it up, missing out on feeling everything that was surfacing.
But now I write because I took time to compost all of it. I let that stinky mess, spilled and unkempt, sit in my belly and in my heart. I tried not to disturb it with words trying to explain away my experience or what I was feeling. I don’t necessarily want to go back and look at it but the dirt has transformed into a life that I never dreamed possible. Or maybe I did but never actually named it. A life of purpose and faith. Now I am compelled to write about our journey and all the lessons we keep learning about parenting, family, community, and lifelong learning.
A warning: There is so much and this place has always been a landing spot for me to write what I see and how I feel. It may feel a little disjointed as I don’t believe in writing it all down chronologically. Reading my blog posts will feel like stumbling on a little puzzle piece. A little mysterious nugget of an observation or an experience. They may not be framed as poetic love letters or little love notes to a now grown-up daughter, but they will still serve as a way of connecting again to what I see and how I feel right here and right now.
- What our homeschool day looks like now
- Moving into our new home
- Parenting transitions – my adventures in distance parenting
- Grief, loss, sorrow, and gratitude
- Creating a family mission statement
- How my marriage survived building a house in the jungle
- And new projects on the horizon…