Notes from Mom

My mother was the queen of the “bread and butter” notes.  Although I never really understood why she called them by that edible imagery, I knew she meant short, little missives expressing thanks, get well wishes or just “keeping in touch” notes.  Although she’s been gone for 5 years, I can envision her, early in the morning with her cup of coffee, sitting at her beautiful, oak desk writing.  The desk now sits in my bedroom, all too often covered with bills and “to do” lists but I did inherit the love of correspondence, along with the desk.

Sadly, mailboxes rarely contain handwritten letters these days.  Email, twitter, Facebook and texting are so much easier and provide immediate gratification and feedback.  But what are we missing by not writing letters?  There is something special in the unique handwriting of each person, the time taken to choose beautiful stationary or a cute card, the tactile sense of holding a tangible letter. The legacy of a “real” letter with a loved one’s script, is lost in the name of speed and convenience. Perhaps, best of all, a letter can be stored away to be read over and over, slowly savored, a treasure to keep forever.

When I was raising my children, I placed happy notes in their lunchboxes to give them a message of love in the middle of their day. On the weekends they spent with their dad, I made sure to tuck a few little notes in their suitcases. As they got older, the notes became longer and left on their pillows or later, taped to their steering wheels.  They were messages of encouragement and reminders of how special they were and how very much they were loved!  Seeing it in writing makes it seem more powerful!

The notes to my daughters turned to longer letters when they were adolescents.  Although we lived in the same house, the written word was often the best way my youngest daughter and I could convey our feelings in a rational way.  Through long notes we expressed our conflicting opinions, peacefully negotiating her pleas for a dog, purple hair and extended curfews.  Although the answer was usually no, it was great negotiating practice for her and using the written word helped us avoid some emotionally tense mother-daughter scenes.

Thankfully, that period soon passed and our written exchanges continued with a more positive twist.  By the time she left for college our relationship had returned to calm waters and parting was tough on both of us. Phone calls were cheap, texting and emailing were quick and easy and although we did take advantage of those forms of communication, we also continued to write “real” letters. I tried to relate the feelings of home, love and security through long, chatty and frequent letters to both my daughters as they ventured forth into adulthood and independence.  My efforts were paid back tenfold with incredible, sweet, funny letters arriving back from them.  Those letters became a journal of their college years, a record of their adventures (the ones they allowed their mother to read about), their friendships, their accomplishments and dreams for the future.  In return, they have a collection of letters that will remain with them long after I’m gone from this world, reminding them of the past and their mother’s unconditional love for them.

Whatever parenting stage you are in, I encourage you to write a note to your child today. Put an “I love you” in your first graders lunch box, an “I’m proud of how hard you studied for the spelling test” in your fourth graders backpack, a “have a great day” post it note on your teenage driver’s steering wheel or write a full-fledged snail mail letter to your college freshman. The written form of communication can pack a powerful punch of love to your child!

Categories: Single Stepping