I am a sap. I cry at commercials, the videos at charity luncheons send me over the edge, and the SPCA public announcements haunt me. My kids know what “happy tears” are because they see me shedding them at every school function and little league game. It is no surprise that motherhood has brought this quality to the forefront of my emotional being.
When I was pregnant for the first time I wrote a letter to my unborn child. I didn’t yet know if it was a boy or a girl, so it was addressed to Adam or Emily. I poured my heart and soul into capturing my feelings toward impending motherhood, complete with my hopes and dreams for this child that I already felt so connected to. I wrote of how excited I was to be a mother, and how I hoped to thrive in this new role.
After Adam was born I wrote another letter describing the experience of holding him for the first time, how nervous I was to bring him home, and hearing his first bird-like cry. To this day, I can recall that sound with total clarity. My husband and I counted ten fingers and ten toes together, as we gazed at each other in wonder and disbelief that we had created this marvelous human being.
Before my second son, Dylan, was born I wrote of my fears that I wouldn’t love another child as much as my first. Would my heart truly expand and make room for new bonds and unconditional love with a second child? After Dylan’s birth, I wrote a letter about his entering the world. His letter turned out to be almost identical to Adam’s. I think it could be the first time, or tenth, but the magic and wonder of a new life does not dissipate with birth order.
I continue writing my letters every 365 days. I ponder throughout the year about what tidbits I will add when I sit down to complete this task on the eve of their birthdays. It has become a time to reflect on the growth in our relationship as mother and son, their individuality, and their accomplishments throughout the year. This is also the time for me to focus on the bigger picture of my kids…their sense of humor, passions, and all the joy that is involved in parenting them. There is no place in these letters for the mundane, hard parts of everyday parenting life, such as fighting, tears and whining. And, no editing allowed. I simply pour my heart into it and click “print.”
My children know that I write letters to them. I am sure at 6 and 4 this information goes in one ear, and out the other, but one day I hope they will treasure these devotions. I daydream of presenting them bound together to each of my sons as they approach fatherhood. Maybe these letters will give them insight into the unconditional love that a parent has for their children, which cannot be understood until you become a parent yourself.
Each year after I write the new letters I indulge in reading all of the previous ones. I get comfy with a box of tissues, and I let myself cry…and I revel in my love. This has become the family tradition that I am most proud of. Writing these letters is not about literary prowess or getting published. What keeps me writing is the appreciation, and anticipation for what incredible stories the next year will bring to these love letters. XOX