Heatherlee shares stories about motherhood: the good the bad and the messy!

Lunchbox Drawings: A mom's lesson in letting go

 A handful of the lunchbox drawings that came back home. As you can see, the quality varied depending on the morning :)

A handful of the lunchbox drawings that came back home. As you can see, the quality varied depending on the morning :)

A drawing a day

On my son's first day of school I decided to draw him a little picture for his lunch box. It was Boov from our favorite movie, Home. When he came home that first day with news his teacher hung it on the wall, I was so flattered- it became an everyday thing.

Each morning I'd joyfully take 5 minutes to compose a little something for him, usually including short words for him to practice and topped off with some hearts & smileys. It added a little fun to each morning, such a great excuse to draw! 

I often drew things that were top of mind, like a movie we'd just seen or a toy we'd just found or a character from one of his worksheets. To me, it was a simple way to give my son a little piece of home while at lunch.

Of course, it was as much a gift for me as it was a gift for him. I loved hearing him mention how he was surprised with the picture that day. He even gave the drawings away to his friends sometimes. 

As the school year went on I'd quickly dream something up, never planning it or spending too much time. It was meant to be a quick & dirty midday pick-me-up. But of course, as we do as parents sometimes, I started worrying about what others would think. Is this too intrusive? What do the teachers think? Are kids making fun of him that his mom draws for him?

He never indicated that. But I did know that the time would come..

When he asked me to stop drawing

I knew the day would come, I just didn't expect it so soon. It was about 2 weeks ago..

Quick backstory: He's been working really hard on eating all of his food, the little guy isn't used to eating under pressure (with only 25 minutes to chow down). He also hates the lunchroom.. it's the only "class" he says he doesn't like. He is not a fan of the big long, shared bench seating, so lunch is a point of contention for him. 

One day he did a poor job eating his lunch and we started talking about distractions.. Among kids talking to him, my drawings came up, "Yeah, I do have to take time to look at them... mom I don't need them anymore."

I was devasted.

I tried not to play into it, though. This was him having a stance, examining what might be in the way of his goals and mindfully initiating a change that could help. It made me proud even if it wasn't what I wanted to hear.

I know as a mom it's important to let go and to respect your child's wishes, especially with something so trivial. He never asked for the drawings, and like my hubby insisted, "This was more for you anyway."

It was. I'm embarrassed to admit, I continued asking my son if he wanted a drawing the days after this, just in case. He persisted though, insisting, "It's a distraction, remember mom."

So that was that.
The drawings stopped.

Motherhood is SO about letting go.

This lesson is no different than any other letting go story. Over the years I've had to fight back the urge to express my full feelings in leui of letting my child choose, and grow and be, organically. I'm always here to fuel his independence, and gently guide rather than overly dictate.

And through lots of ups and downs (and short lived traditions like these lunchbox drawings) I've come to realize how much motherhood is a bittersweet series of letting go.

Questions for reader..
As a mom, what are some things you've done that helped you cope with your child being away/growing up? Did you initiate any traditions that one day you had to let go of? What were those moments when you realized it was more for you than it was for them, and how did you flip the switch?

Update on the story...
About a week went by before my son came home and told me that I could draw him the drawings again. In my head: YAY!!! Oh did you miss them? This is great! Thank you, thank you!

In real life, "Okay, sure. I can do the drawings for you again if you want." 

What do you know..  :) :) :)
He does want them.

Everything is better in moderation..
It's a great little agreement we have now. He told me that it's okay if it's not everyday. (Well that takes pressure off!) And he told me if there wasn't a drawing for him that day, he'd come home with something he'd drawn for me during quiet time. (What a deal!)

So far I've kept it pretty sporadic since starting again. This way it actually can be a surprise when he opens his lunch. Will there be a drawing or will there not be?

I hope to continue this lunchbox tradition as years go on.. and imagine it evolving... Maybe a riddle here and there?  Who knows! But it will always be up to him. I'll listen and pivot whenever needed. But while he is 5 and while he still wants it, ya damn right I'm going to keep drawing these drawings and savoring these moments. I hope in the long run he appreciates the sentiment.

In all, it helps keep me plugged into my own imagination and invites me to slow down. There are so many ways to add delight to your day, it's so great when your kids inspire something so fun.

They help us grow too.. 

I love this story. Isn't it true that our kids help us to grow just as much as we help them to? Maybe they even win in that category. And it's a great thing! As we go on with each new year these kids of ours will continue forcing us to LET GO, bite our tongues, hold back tears and live and let be.

Oftentimes I feel it'll be before we're really ready. But change is renewal and I'm up for the challenge. I hope you are too. 
Because there is so much beauty and growth in LETTING GO. Ultimately, our kids love us more for it, and learn so much from it.. as do we.

This is the privilege in parenting.
Sigh :)


Thanks for reading!

Until next time,



Heatherlee is a fearless mom, designer, artist and community maker in St. Paul, MN. She's a doula-in-training, apprentice energy worker and life long learner interested in wellness, social entrepreneurship and the intersection of culture, consciousness and creativity. More about Heatherlee's entry into women's health and birth work, and her career milestones so far.


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Note from the author: I strive to live in a way that empowers people and creates an open space for love and light. We are content being a little bit different, a little off-beat, and all the way happy :)

Mental and spiritual health is extremely important to me as a mom. I believe in preventative wellness and the healing power of meditation. I believe in informed decision making and listening to your body and heart.

I'm not perfect or certified in anything really. So, thanks for accepting me as I grow and learn and write from my perspective. I hope this blog brings me closer to finding and creating the things moms need. And above all that you're inspired to be yourself.

Now go mom like a boss!
(Whatever that means to you).

With love, Heatherlee