To my daughter’s friends:

I’m sure it comes as no surprise how much my daughter misses all of you. She has always been incredibly social, and you all have become a constant presence in our home. When she’s at school, our house is quiet. It’s often just my 4-year-old and me ping-ponging around the house, biding time until Lila gets home.

Because when school lets out for the day, we’re likely to have six or seven of you, her friends, setting up shop in our living room and around our dining room table.

It’s no surprise my daughter misses her crew. But what may come as a surprise? I miss all of you, too.

My SUV is designed to hold six little kids even though I only have two. And, often, each and every seat is full of some combination of booster seat, car seat, or seat belt. The back of my SUV is always stuffed with backpacks and jackets and homework folders. There were many times I’d sigh as I opened the back and kids’ items came tumbling out, and I’d carry more than my fair share of items into the house.

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Now, I miss sorting your things into neat piles to be handed off to your parents at the end of the day.

My house is often a loudLOUDplace. Kids playing pretend or fighting over whose turn it is. Groups of three struggling with the dynamics of playing in larger numbers than they are used to. Little brothers being shut out, and a friend swooping in to find a way for him to play.

With just two kids, my house feels quiet. Sometimes, I’ll admit, the quiet is a relief.

But most of the time, I miss your bustle and the delicate ebb and flow that makes up your noise.

I try to take your place at playtime. I hold the dolls, and I try to make the same voices. But both my daughter and I know it’s not the same. I’m a poor man’s version of Olivia or Megan or Lily.

You are sorely missedby more than just my disappointed playmate.

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Snacks around here are usually served in Costco-sized portions. Full boxes of crackers, an entire bag of grapes. The fairy bread I’m famous for made in batches of 10 slices at once. Cookies to decorate, with each of you choosingand spillingyour own color of sprinkles.

And the crumbs. My goodness, the crumbs.

Nowadays, there are far fewer crumbs on my floor, and my broom isn’t quite as busy as it used to be. But I’d trade the workload for all of you in a hot second.

The truth is, it’s not just my kids who miss you.

And believe me, they do miss you. But if I’m being honest, so do I.

I miss playdates and pickups and carpooling home from Girl Scouts. I miss having too much sand in my car and not enough pretzels to go around. I miss your laughs and your grumpy cat faces and the chaotic, tumbling brand of happiness you brought into our home.

But most of all, I miss the joy you brought with you.

I know playdates will be back someday, and I hope you’ll come. I hope you bring your dirty shoes and your overflowing backpacks, and I hope you bring your appetites. We’ve got too many crackers around here, and I can’t wait until you’re able to come and help us eat them.

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Until then, I’ll keep eavesdropping on your Zoom playdates and your messenger calls. I’ll keep popping up behind my daughter and asking how you are. I’ll keep poking my head in and asking too many questions even while my daughter shoos me away, telling me I can go now.

And I’ll look forward to the day when you’re back here with us, whether for an hour or a day.

Because you all have become a huge part of the fabric of our day, and I can’t wait until we can have you over again.

Crumbs and all.

Jaymi Torrez

Jaymi Torrez blogs at TheSaltyMamas.com with her bestie and blogging partner Christine. She has two small children and a super cool husband. Jaymi dreams of five minutes peace and going to the bathroom alone, but can more often be found holding a two year old on her lap while writing about the ups and downs of parenting.