Love Letters

I didn’t know I had a really good idea about connecting families, stories, and souls until I charmed my way into Tanglewood for free one evening with a couple of new friends. I was on a little weekend getaway by myself. This is a very new experience for me and I must say it is wonderful. I met some ladies staying at the same place as me and we were just down the road from Tanglewood, the Summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. On a glorious Saturday evening, we decided to hike down the road and sit in the parking lot to have a listen. Instead, I calmly marched us right up to gate and explained we would really like to come in. As if I was Obi Wan waving my hand in a Jedi mind trick, the security guards produced tickets and opened the gate. Voila. My new gal pals were giddy and convinced I am a witch. I am not a witch. Not in the least.

Our evening was delightful and as we laughed our way into the night, we began to swap stories and anecdotes of our personal lives. During the show I had been writing in a journal and one of the ladies asked me about it. I told her it’s my daughter’s book and she looked perplexed. I began to tell her the method to my madness. I found myself revealing a passionate writing process taken up by my family. I hadn’t set out to boast, expose, or instruct. However, we spend a short while walking and discussing the beautiful gift our family has created. One of the ladies asked me if I would mind if she shared my idea with some new moms she knows. She said it was something she wished she had for herself…I told her to share it with everyone. It was then I knew I should write this down and give it to you.

When my doctor told us we were pregnant with my oldest child, I began writing in a journal. This was a bit different than a personal journal because it was written to my baby. I just let myself stream of conscious work out whatever was happening for me. I knew enough of myself to not create any harsh deadlines or rules. When I wanted or needed to say something I wrote it down. When I was worried, I wrote it down. When I went to the doctor or had a discussion with my husband, I wrote it down. Not every day. I have several journals filled now and my daughter is currently five. I tell her anything. I talk about stuff that might be hard to say or I don’t want to forget. Sometimes I tell her things that are trivial. I just write. Someday I will give her these books, they are for her.

Much to our delight and surprise, when my daughter was two and a half, we found out we were pregnant with a little boy. I wrote about it in his sister’s journal. I felt sad I wasn’t making one for him. I gave it a lot of thought and knew what I am honestly capable of and two emotionally raw and real journals is NOT practical. I decided to write him a letter on the day he was born, March 17. Then I made a deal with myself that I will write him a letter on the 17th of every month until I can’t. He has 30 letters tucked in a box so far waiting patiently for his reading pleasure. They are not all long and some are written on cards or even postcards. They are my monthly check ins with him, with me, with us. It fills me with joy simply thinking of it.

The third part of this ritual came from my request but is not carried out by me. Right before my daughter was born, I was filled with the hormonal charged nesting and sentimental swirl that many mamas experience. I began to become nostalgic for my own grandmothers who both died many years before this. I had questions and requests for stories that could not be satiated. I came up with something I longed for, something I can’t have for myself, but wanted so dearly for my kids. I asked my parents and my husband’s parents if they would be interested in writing a letter to their new grandchild. I let them know it wasn’t mandatory but would be greatly appreciated. I asked them to consider for my daughter’s birthday every year they are alive to include a letter, a year in review from their perspective. I let them know I am not going to read these letters but shall have them kept for my kids. They will have a letter for every year they share this Earth with their grandparents. To my surprise, they now also do it for my son. My mom has included recipes and pictures I think. The letters come with their birthday presents specially marked and someday they will be able to reconnect regardless of distance or existence as I say. I was really touched when my husband decided that he would write a yearly letter to the kids on their birthdays as well. He gets pictures printed and includes them with his “Year in Review”. They must be the luckiest kids I know. Just imagine having letters marking your journey along with your grandmother’s journey from her perspective.

That’s all it is. A writing commitment of love. Now, I have heard many a mom rant that they don’t have time to scrapbook or lament how  they kept baby books for the first few months until chaos of life took over. Trust me, I am not super-pintrest-coupon-hacking mom. I made a commitment that was honest with what I could do and it has become so rewarding and magical. Think about it, can you take 10 minutes to write a card one time a month? Or perhaps spending a little longer on a letter but once a year is more suited to your lifestyle. We are caught up in the memes, tweets, and insta-gratification of our digital lives. How nice would it be to cosy up and read a letter to you from someone you love that you have missed for oh so long?

So that is my great idea. Take what you want, change it, make it fit you, and give a bit of yourself.

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A Good Cry

She was napping. I was using that time to get things done. A common attempt in our house. I was crossing the room wondering how long she would sleep when I heard the first howl.

It was if the Banshee had entered my daughter’s body and was signaling the chariots that my glimpse of free time was dead. Over. Kaput. Yet not without an interesting lesson to learn.

I opened her door and called her name ever so sweetly. She wailed and kicked. I went to her bedside and told her I was there and that I love her. My little girl thrashed and yelled. I asked if she wanted me to pick her up and she said No. I tried to stroke her and she said go away. I left the door open and went out of the room. She continued to scream and wail. I called to her and said I am here, I love her and when she is ready I will come get her.

The yelling continued for some time, it is hard to tell how long. Any amount of time my child is in distress feels like an eternity to me. I went back into the room giving her space but letting her know I was there. She asked, Where’s Daddy?” I reminded her that he was working today and would be home soon. I asked if she wanted to get out and come in the other room. To which she screamed No and continued to sob.

I stayed and sat with her. I gave her soft soothing words, telling her of my love for her. I moved to the other room and got some cozy blankets together on the sofa and some grapes. I called to her again and said I would love so much to cuddle her. When I approached her bed she was sitting up clutching her purple blanket. She put her arms out for me.

I scooped her up still crying. I changed her diaper while she cried and yelled. I smiled and said I want to understand what she is feeling but I will wait. I bundled her back up and embraced this siren sounding girl in my arms. We sat on the sofa and snuggled into our blankets. Soon she saw the grapes and her crying slowed. She took one and put it in her mouth.

I rubbed her back as she let the tears and grape juice stream down her face. I kissed it all away as she calmed. I closed my eyes and breathed deep breaths. I continued this meditation until she sweetly said, “Mummy, I want more grapes, please.”

About two hours later we were playing and having a wonderful time. She stopped  to say, ” Mummy, I was crying.”

“Yes, my love, you were.”

“I needed to scream Mummy. I needed a good cry.”

In that moment I was overwhelmed with love and astonishment. I was so proud of her for understanding this about herself and proud of me – for not making her feel that she had to be quiet or stifle this expression. We were at home, just us – sounds like a very good time for a good cry.

How is it that my two year old has a better awareness of herself and confidence in her needs and expression than I may ever have? I alter my thoughts and feelings so I won’t impose on others. I stifle, stuff and suffocate my feelings. I over think, over explain and let others over power my needs. Here is this little person so full of self awareness and self esteem. She is teaching me and I can only hope I will be her best student.