In my life, I have moved several times, I’ve done different types of jobs, I’ve become a mother, and I have grown and changed. The one thing that I can say has always been a constant presence is my love of drawing.
One of my earliest memories is of me drawing at a little folding table in my parents’ bedroom one evening while they watched television. Somehow, and I don’t remember how, very early on drawing became a part of who I was: a way for me to process the world; a way to replicate and remember images I liked; a set of symbols that make up a personal language; a way to connect to people in my life. I became the kid in the family and the kid at school who was “into drawing.”
Over the years, I have read and heard about the importance of drawing every day. Even though I am a firm believer that I can only get better at drawing by drawing, I wasn’t doing it consistently, and I both missed it and felt bad about not doing it. I would try to convince students that they should draw frequently, that they should keep sketchbooks, and here I was drawing here and there, but far from every day.
Nearly three years ago, that changed. We had just moved to Seattle and my daughter was going to start going to school full day for the first time. She and I had been hanging out every day since she had been born. We were lunch buddies, we played together, we read together (and she’d elbow me because around 2 pm my sleepiness would barge in while reading to her, and my voice would trail off…”I’m up, I’m up…where was I?”). I wanted and needed to do something for her (and for me) that reminded her during the day that I was thinking about her. I wanted her to know that I could still be her lunch buddy if only for the seconds it took her to take a little piece of paper out of her lunchbox and give it a look.
That is how my “lunchbox drawings” to the kiddo began. The first year, I did the quick little drawings with a sharpie or a ballpoint pen on bright colored sticky notes. Most of the time, I made them in a rush after getting her sandwich and fruit stuffed in containers. They were quick “hello’s” and “I love you’s” with a little drawing. It was in the days leading up to her first day of Kindergarten when I decided to start doing the drawings on blank note cards, and to try to be more intentional about them. I still wanted them to be rather quick, for the sake of time and as a good mental exercise, but I wanted to do a better job at them.
In the last two school years, the lunchbox drawings have become a way for me to record the kiddo’s likes (and, at times, dislikes), things she’s interested in, and family jokes…in a way, her life. I make sure to write a little note in the back that not only says “I love you” but also mentions the reason for the drawing in case it’s not obvious and is worth remembering. There are times when she doesn’t “get” the drawing, which is okay…I blame it on the late night sleepy drawing! (without a little squirt elbowing me to wake up!)
Apparently, to create a habit you have to at least do that new something for about 66 days—a little over two months. There have been only a handful of days, in the last three years, when I have set my head on the pillow to go to sleep only to remember: “Oh crap! I forgot to do the lunchbox drawing!” Otherwise, it truly is part of what I do everyday. There are nights when I have absolutely no clue what to draw, and some nights when the drawing just flows out of me. The kiddo now expects her drawings, and I know she appreciates them and even shares them with her friends (even if sometimes she doesn’t remember what I drew if I ask her about it after school. It’s okay!). I love doing them for her (and for me). The truth is that after having done over 500 drawings, I can’t imagine not sending her a drawing in her lunchbox every day…so drawing will continue to be part of who I am. And I’m more than okay with that!
You can see more Lunchbox Drawings by visiting my instagram gallery.