Love Notes and Penguins and Pink

I’m spending way too much time looking for a place to send fan mail to Karan Brar – the actor who played Ravi on Disney’s Jessie and Bunk’d because my boy is in love with him. Ravi is smart, kind, funny, weird, adorable. He’s very similar to my kid and we just adore him.  We want to write him a love note. Now we know that Ravi is played by an actor and that he has grown up a bit since these shows and listen, these shows have plenty of problems in representation and sterotypes and a whole mess of other stuff, but this character my boy has really connected with is a good one and I want to encourage that. Bubby said that if he were to act like any kid on tv it would be Ravi because he doesn’t care what anybody thinks and he’s always kind. SWOON. We want to write him a love note to show how we appreciate his work and his character.

I’ve been thinking about love notes. We write a lot of love notes in our home. I’m not great at gift giving but I’m pretty good with words, so I text, write, sing my love notes to the people in my life who make a difference and make my life, my kids lives, better.  In the neighborhood, at school, at work, on the train and on the street, I shout out (or write out) my love. Nowhere is that more true than in our own home. My husband and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in a few weeks and WHEW does our love look different than it did 10 years ago. Kids will absolutely ruin the marriage you once had. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s just different.  I have written my husband many a love note through the years, as he has to me. I’ve written several blog posts about our love story – all of them love notes.

Sometimes (ok, often) we get angry or frustrated or lose our tempers with each other. They go off to school and we go to work and I find myself feeling badly for yelling at them to hurry up and eat breakfast and get dressed for the 174th time that morning or I snap at my husband YET AGAIN and then they’re gone and I look around and I see one of these notes.  Then we apologize, hug, text, call, go about our day but still it can nag. Then I see one of these on my computer when I go to turn it on for the day:

yes, that’s just about my favorite photo of my parents running out after their wedding to begin many years of loving even when it’s really hard.

And my heart is healed, or at least healing. No matter what, we love each other. We love. Oh how we love. No matter how angry or frustrated, we love. If they only knew that I think of them almost every minute of every day. What they are doing what they are feeling what they are eating what they are facing.

And the love notes are abundant right now from 6 year olds. They are learning to read and write and each morning before they come downstairs, they make these love notes. For everyone in our home. 6 year olds love them some sticky notes, let me tell you. Every day they bring home love notes from classmates and they have written a bunch to give away too. It’s the sweetest thing in the entire world. Kindergarteners, man. We are soaking in this sweet spot.

Sir wakes them up each morning and they all pad sleepily into my office across the hall from their bedroom and they draw.  They write. They create. They love on Sir.

Don’t forget about the 20 love notes Bella gets every day.

Hi Sally Boy.

My husband was away on a boys weekend last week so the kids and I went to see the new Penguins movie by Disney.  WHEW BOY DOES DISNEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE THEY DOING.

SPOILER ALERT –

The two adorable Adelies  – Steve and Adeline – keep coming back to each other because that is what penguins do. They fight terrible odds and climate and treacherous conditions to make it back to each other over and over and over. They just wanted their babies. They went through A LOT to find each other and have them and I RELATE.  They had two eggs and two babies and they both dedicated their lives to keeping those babies safe and warm and fed. AND I MEAN FED. They fight off predators and harsh winds and cold and they do it together. One at a time most of the time, but together. AS DO ALL OF US IN FAMILIES.

It made me weep with gratitude and overwhelming love I tell you what. DAMMIT DISNEY.

That hour was filled with conflict and challenge and babies and all they do is gather food and work work work and try to STAY ALIVE.  And then those gd lion seals always popping their enormous heads out of the ice posing a threat to the babies and families and I was covering my kids eyes and crying screaming IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO THOSE BABIES I SWEAR TO GOD and the kids were like ARE YOU OK MAMA and I was like I BETTER BE. It was a good thing everybody else was at the movies that day to see Endgame and we were the only folks in the theater because I was HOWLING. And then we clapped and cheered and hugged and I cried. Again. And I found myself missing my husband and so so grateful for all he does and his constant coming back home. I never have to worry that he will come back to us as he never has to worry about me. That in itself, is everything.

Oh sure, there are also notes like this from time to time –

But they are fewer and far between.

And often accompanied by more of these:

Twins, man.

The progression of time is a thing that is making me furious and sad lately. I know I always say to live in the moment and I do my best to do just that but dammit watching my parents grow older and watching my kids grow older is something that makes me feel all the feelings with a speed that seems to be increasing daily.

What do we have to remember? I have all the voicemails my parents have left for me. I never delete them and download them as voice memos (now you know I do this, mom and dad xoxo). I want to hear their voices. I have so many of the letters my mama has written me and I have these memories documents that both my parents have generously written in recent years detailing their histories, their memories, their thoughts on their lives. It’s making me, ahem, feel things I don’t necessarily want to feel. But also giving me these glorious windows into who they are. The parts we as their kids don’t usually get to see. I’m honored and grateful.

Did you see that recent episode of Queer Eye with the mom who died of cancer but before she died she wrote out a mess of cards for her little growing boys so they could get a card from their mama every year even though she wasn’t alive any longer? OH MY HEART. That ‘be nice to your brother” business, hold me. THAT is the stuff right there.

My husband and I are extra kind to each other when one of us is gone. On a trip or just gone for a bit. We write kind loving things to each other. More-so than when we are together sometimes. WHAT IS THAT. Absence makes the heart grow fonder? I guess so. But I miss him when he’s gone and that’s gotta be a good sign, right? We have secrets that nobody else in the world will ever know and I trust him with these secrets. He knows that I will keep the house too warm and lights on that don’t need to be on and the blinds open when they should be closed. I know that he will watch some old obscure movie that nobody else in the world wants to watch over something GOOD like the Americans or Schitt’s Creek for the love. We share the stories of the kids all day long through text and he’s one of about 2 people I actually talk on the phone with (YES I CALLED MY MAMA THIS MORNING) when we are apart. We actually talk more when we are apart than sitting next to each other.  He’s reliable and hard working and the very best dad for our two goofballs. He is my most imperfect perfect safest human. 10 years married feels like 100 and I mean that in the best way.

These days a love note can kind of be a day after the biggest Game of Thrones yet and waiting to watch it with your love because he was on a 5 day boys trip while you were at home with the kids so you stay completely off twitter so as not to find out what really happens for 24 hours and IT IS HARD but yeah. So is relationship.

I don’t keep many things but I do have a box of letters and notes that my mom or husband or dad or kids or Nikki have given me through the years. Because this is the stuff that brings me joy and reminds me of where we were and all we have to be grateful for.

Love notes can be big or small. They can encompass the hard truths of where we come from and where are going. They can simply say I love you. But the important thing is that they exist. They remind  us that we are indeed loved and that we love. I want to write a love note to everyone who needs to hear it and I want a giant sticky to sit on your desk or next to your night light or cat tower that reads I LOVE YOU!!!!!! with eleven hundred exclamation marks.

When I receive some quick text or note or email that in some way encourages or fills me with pride or good feelings, I do my best to recreate that in a way for someone else.  It’s a good practice. This receiving and passing along and receiving even more because of passing it along.  The hardest ones are the people I’m closest to, admittedly. More love. I need to grant more grace and love to my husband and my kids.  And always myself.

So we live in this house and this office and this car and this body that has marks of love all over. It’s worn and chipped and erased and re-done and painted and scrubbed and then supplied with even more hearts. I will keep these notes up for as long as they stick and then maybe stick them back up.

I want to put more love into my home. I want to keep putting more love into the world. MORE LOVE MORE LOVE MORE LOVE. That is what I’m called to do in whatever form that takes. Bring me your “weird” and your “different” and your hurting and we will show them kindness. Just like Ravi. If someone is being teased, we will do our best to make good trouble. If we are fed with love, love must be shared with others who need it. This is what keeps me afloat.

Sometimes it’s by disruption and sometimes it’s by inclusion and acceptance and sometimes its simply a note by a nightlight.

Sometimes it’s yelling one last time at school drop off, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH YOU ARE THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD I AM SO PROUD OF THE PERSON YOU ARE BE BRAVE BE KIND HAVE FUN and seeing their little faces kind of be embarrassed but also filled with love and knowing beyond a doubt that they are loved looking back at me. And then the teachers laugh at me and I say YOU TOO!  YOU ARE AWESOME AND I AM SO PROUD OF YOU AND THE PERSON YOU ARE and then we all go on our way for another day.

Sometimes it’s making a new mom friend at school and knowing the very first minute you start talking that this one is going to be one that sticks and down in your core that this is a gift. That we meet the people we are meant to meet just when we need them, if we are open to it. And then your texts and messages become love notes in that you’re just thankful to have that connection and hopefully don’t scare her off with your glee.

Sometimes it’s your neighbor texting a drawing her daughter made of you recently…..

Did I mention I cannot stop listening to the new Pink album? She’s one of those rad women who has been around long enough and keeps doing the work. I mean, she works. I want to take my kids to see her in concert so badly one of these days when we can afford it (COME ON TICKET PRICES). We talk about her and her music and how strong she is but also vulnerable. Her songs are love notes. Hearing both my kids sing that “A Million Dreams” song in their little voices full of heart brings me to my knees. Last night I heard them singing on the monitor, so I went up to their room and from their beds they wanted me to hear both their versions of this song. In their purely precious perfect little voices they sang from their heart….

Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
A million dreams, a million dreams
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

….and then both said, “ARE YOU CRYING MAMA YOU ARE CRYING” and they laughed because THEY KNOW. Pink makes me so damn grateful. We grow – hopefully –  if we stick around long enough and her discography shows me how far we’ve come and just how beautiful it all really is.

Depression and anxiety and addiction are beasts. I walk through this every day even when there are highs and lows and days I just don’t want it any more. But I am here. I am staying here. I want to see what happens next. I disappear for a while but then I come back.

I’m just so grateful for the opportunity for all of this. To give and receive love. This life feels so big and scary sometimes but when it comes right down to it, I am so loved and I love so hard. So as heartbreaking and soul-crushing as some days are, that love is the foundation. I never could have imagined so much love in my life. Love makes me strong and makes me vulnerable. I choose hope. I choose love. I choose gratitude. I choose to reach out and grab people and hug them hard even as I first meet them because it’s what keeps us human and connected and HERE. I want to stay here and I want you to stay here too. You never ever know what happens on the next page of this story, my story, your story.  I choose to keep walking this road even when it feels like all I do is cry.

More love notes. More penguins. More Pink. More love.

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