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.