Lately, whenever I’m able to carve out some time to write, I’ve been struggling with which projects to work on. I have several things I’m finishing up or revising, and some new projects I’ve recently started too. And I feel passionate about all of them. The other night, I got frustrated, wishing I had more of a focus and less of a fire for so many different things. I wished there was one manuscript that stood out as the one I should be putting all my time into. Even though I thrive on having my hands in many different projects at once, I’ve been praying for more of a clear priority … I want my writing to make an impact, whether in the lives of kids, teens, or women. And I want to spend my time on the stories that make the most difference … All of these thoughts were running through my head as I went upstairs to check on my kids. It was late, and when I went into their rooms, they were both asleep.
Quietly, I sat down at my daughter’s desk.
The notebook that we write each other notes in every night was open to a fresh page. She hadn’t written me anything before she fell asleep, but I didn’t mind. I smiled and picked up a pen.
May 16, 2011: I wrote, pausing to think about what to say.
The notebook was her idea—to replace our writings on her whiteboard. “I want to save what we write, instead of erase it,” she said one day, taking the notebook out and putting it on her desk.
And so our nightly letters to each other shifted from the whiteboard to paper.
I started to write …
I love you, Sweetheart.
I thought about all that my daughter has faced in sixth grade this year… the new experiences—both good and challenging—and all that she’s had on her plate with school and sports.
I thought about the transition from elementary to middle school and how fragile and important this pre-teen age is.
You are full of life and love, I continued.
eager to do the right thing,
even when it’s hard.
You are committed
a wonderful daughter
I am blessed.
I know my note might sound corny, but everything I wrote was true. And I hoped it would encourage her in some way.
In my son’s room, I grabbed the dry-erase pen off his dresser and wrote him a note too (the whiteboard still hangs on the wall by his bed).
On my way downstairs, I thought about our letters back and forth and wondered if my kids will remember them when they grow up.
I wondered if they might use whiteboards or notebooks with their own kids someday.
I wondered if my daughter might look at those lined pages when she’s a teenager—maybe even on a day she’s mad at me—and remember how much I love her, or if she’ll look at them when she’s a mom herself, and maybe even show them to her own children.
And I realized with sudden clarity,
that no matter what other writing projects I’m working on,
no matter which books of mine are published or not,
my nightly notes,
my simple, sometimes corny, always mushy, nightly notes,
might be that one thing that makes a difference,
that one, most important thing
that I will ever write.