The Unexpected Benefit of Writing Letters to My Kids Every Month
I was recording a memorial for a story we never expected to end
I started writing letters to my kids once a month when they were born.
My boys are now 16 and 14, so they have 192 and 168 letters respectively. I’m not done yet, either: I promised to continue writing to them until they turn 18.
I won’t lie and tell you I started these letters for altruistic reasons. I had selfish goals: Because I left a successful career to raise my boys full-time, I planned to provide a kick-ass chronological history of our time together so I could justify my stay-at-home-mom status.
I figured that if I documented everything I did with them and for them from birth to age 18, they would remember me as the greatest mother that ever lived in the history of the universe.
I wrote about how I pumped breast milk for a solid six months. Best mom ever! I wrote about how my son started talking in full sentences at age two because I read books and sang songs to him every night to help develop early language skills. Mother of the year!
But a devastating thing happened on the way to me documenting my star-mom status: Their dad died.
I couldn’t possibly know, when I began my letter-writing campaign, that my selfish goal would turn into a benevolent one. My monthly letters evolved into a memorial for a story we never expected to end so soon.
Now, whenever memories fade and the boys need a reminder of their father’s love and devotion, they read the letters.
It’s all right there in black and white.
As soon as our first son was born, my husband, Mark, welcomed all parental opportunities.
As a competent, hands-on dad, he changed dirty diapers, fed wailing babies, and removed spit-up stains from onesies like a pro. When our toddlers ruined clothes, he ironed patches and sewed buttons better than I did. I described his sewing skills in the letters so the boys would someday know that it’s okay for boys to sew buttons.
The sheer joy on your father’s face at your piano recital is something I will…