I am a happily married mama with three little ladies. I am a teacher, a poet, a playwright. I live on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest and write babybythesea.net often, or at least when I'm not making espresso or sneaking chocolate.

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I Found Love in her Backpack

With a daughter buoyant on age seven’s cusp, my heart holds her in a sling still, my eyes blink to behold her tall, lean, beautiful.  I’ll never get over how amazing it is to have a whimsical little girl version of my husband.


Sometimes when I’m braiding her long hair, laughing at her jokes about a pirate’s favorite letter in the alphabetRRRRRR it is like we’re college roommates, scheeming over lattes, planning art projects.
This morning amid oatmeal’s steamy rush, I came across a crayon love note while digging in her backpack.

Bettty I lik yuu a lot.

Then there was a picture of a boy, with hearts floating from his mouth.  He signed his name in burgundy Crayola.

I knew this boy. Every school has this boy. Ugh. My stomach sank.

AHHHHHH, Betty! Ewwww! Oh my gaaawwd!
Luke! I just found a love note in Betty’s backpack.

Yeah, I didn’t exactly handle it well.

I was all teenager, less mom.

I totally embarrassed her, which made her younger sister laugh and start her own beat-box rendition of ohh, ahh, Betty’s getting married, ohh, ahh, Betty’s in love…Her youngest sister took to running circles around the couch, squealing in celebration, Betts, Betts, Betty, Betts.

My husband was not impressed, and gave me the you just broke a parenting rule look.

Betty was slumped, teary-hysterical all the while clutching her doll named Elisabeth wearing large, fleece-y zip up feet-y pajamas.

Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! I don’t ever want to go to school again. That’s so yucky. Please…

It got so much worse.

I sometimes forget I’m a grown-up in sock monkey flannel pajamas.
Especially before 7 AM, before coffee, I forget to lead by example.

I feel like writing a note in plum-colored lipstick on mirror’s reflection of my pre-coffee self:  Hey, you’re the adult around here.  Maybe it’s that whole half-way-to-seventy thing but ever since I turned 35 I keep pinching myself. It’s like my mantra needs to be I’m a grown up.

In so many ways my mind can wander like the best of the local six year olds, and in so many ways I feel like I’m twenty-something, just falling head over heels for my husband, just beginning to think about what it’ll be like to have little people call me mama.

I can close my eyes and remember what it was like to hold her, my firstborn, when she was hours old.

I volunteered at school later that day and saw Betty completely ignore this boy’s request to play hopscotch with her.  She talked about fairy fashion and pine cone buried treasure and was excited about a sticker on her paper.

I don’t even want to think about the days ahead when she’s writing her own love notes, slipping carefully folded pieces of paper into a locker’s slats.  I won’t consider the afternoon her heart breaks for the first time and how I’ll no doubt think it was just the other day my heart felt the same.

In the days of the dream-like future I’m sure I’ll be all grown up unmistakably knowing just what to do.

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  1. Pingback: » Today’s Mama: I Found Love in her Backpack Baby By The Sea

  2. Katie 11/07/2011 at 11:43 pm

    With a house full of girls, I’m guessing this will be the first of many many love notes. 🙂
    I often wonder myself when I’ll feel like a real grown-up…glad to know I’m not alone.