The Fifty-Second Letter: This Is Today


Dear Daughters,

Today, I drank too much caffeinated hot tea with sugar and whole milk. I wore big earrings, big hair, big boots, and no make-up. I wore my grandfather’s blue-green plaid shirt. It is Veterans Day. He was a 101st airborne paratrooper.

Today, I remembered it was the last day to donate Thanksgiving food pantry items at the preschool, and I had forgotten to add them to our grocery list, but we keep Annie’s macaroni and cheese in pantry. So today, we gave what we had.

Today, I sat around a table with some fellow artist friends, and we shared a time of candid lament. We planned a retreat. We ate donuts. We laughed over a Good Housekeeping article from 1955 about the qualities of a good wife, which apparently involves cleaning and cooking and not complaining and dusting before your husband comes home from work. The toddler then spilled milk all over the table.

Today, I signed a permission slip to allow the eldest to walk to the food pantry next week during a morning at preschool. I smile to think of that beautiful image–a row of two-by-two hand-holding children pulling a wagon of food up to Main Street so that local families can have a Thanksgiving meal. This is exactly the work I want you to see and do and know.

Today, I listened to a friend read poems she’d written to voice the pain of sexual assault. She had never read them out loud before, but she bravely shared publicly at a symposium on sexual violence. Reading anything out loud takes guts. Sharing pain vulnerably takes courage.

Today, I struggled to write a community prayer for our worship service on Sunday, knowing that even in our church it is hard to speak openly about divisive issues.

Today, at preschool pick-up, I learned that not all parents of preschoolers are as thrilled as I am that you will be visiting the food pantry in person next week.

Today, I texted with a friend who is going through a divorce.

Today, I addressed a handful of postcards to send to strangers.

Today, the eldest asked why I had a safety pin on my shirt, and I teared up explaining that some people don’t have anyone safe to talk to about important things, and that this pin means I am a safe person. I told you, this pin means people can talk to me about important things, things that make them sad. You told me, “When I’m a grown-up, I might have one of those to put on my shirt.”

Today, I showed the eldest how to write an “A” in cursive.

Today, I sat bundled up in a scarf and sweatshirt at the picnic table, typing away on my laptop, while you asked me repeatedly if you could take off your sweater because it was too hot. It is currently in the 50s and breezy.

Today, I did not cook or clean or dust. I have not dusted in months. But I did eat two jelly donuts. Today.

Today, you brought me a pile of dirty pebbles and sticks, cradled in your dress, and announced that it was your Thanksgiving dinner. And that you’d invited all of your friends to share it with you. I didn’t have the heart to scold you for the dirt on your dress, so we talked about Thanksgiving instead.

Today I wanted to write so many things.

I didn’t.


Your Momma