This is a note that my mother wrote and tucked into my Dr. Seuss lunchbox when I was in the first grade in 1969:
“Hope you have as much fun as the Cat in the Hat on your lunch box. You are a very special girl. Love Mommy.”
I wrote her back on the other side of her note and left it in my lunchbox for her to find: “Hi Mommy. I am working hard. I think about you all the time. I love you very very much. Love Christine.”
This was not a one-time thing. I remember she often wrote me sweet notes and put them in with my lunch.
About 15 years ago, my mother found this years-old brown-paper note when she was cleaning out the attic of our family home in Durham. We both cried reading it, feeling such compassion for the little girl who clearly felt pressure to work hard and perform well as the first-born child of parents who were also the first-born in their families.
Reading the note helped me connect with a deep sense of compassion for myself, given my workaholic ways. I love that my mom was encouraging me to have fun, even though that’s not a message I remember hearing when I was growing up.
This note is among my greatest treasures. Gratefully, my mother, Anita McLeod, is 76, healthy and still married to my dad.
Chris McLeod, 53, of Charlotte, is single and a “crazy aunt” to five nieces and nephews. She is president of Giving Matters, a consulting firm that works with donors who want to make a difference through their charitable giving.