"Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one'."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

If I Could Write A Letter (To My Daughters)

When Doug and I found out we were pregnant with our third daughter, I remember doing a little math, and then this thought left me absolutely breathless:

 In September of 2023, we will have three daughters in high school ... at the same time.  OH THE HUMANITY! 

Those years have the potential to be a full scale Chernobyl-style disaster.  But instead of curling up in the fetal position and preparing to wait out the storm, I've decided to take a more active approach.  My idea is to write them a series of letters, chronicling (in a gentle way) my own experiences, what I wish I'd done differently, and what I want them to know as they prepare to leave the nest.

"...I'd end up saying have no fear/These are nowhere near the best years of your life ... I wish you wouldn't worry, let it be/I'd say have a little faith and you'll see/If I could write a letter to me."

I'm left with a lot of questions and not so many answers.  (Good thing I have a few years for this project.)  What kind of people do we envision them becoming?  What knowledge could we impart to them to turn them into level-headed, conscientious adults?  Maya Angelou wrote Letter To My Daughter to reflect on 80 years of wisdom...do I have any wisdom after 27?  I'm totally unqualified to raise teenagers but maybe that's the case for everybody.
I struggled in high school (who doesn't, right?). Despite an amazing support system at home, somehow I was still hopelessly insecure.  Notoriously impatient.  Ruled by emotion instead of logic (as Doug would say, definitely not a Vulcan :).  So, like any parent, I'd like to spare them some of my trials and tribulations.  The thought of any one of my girls with a broken heart is almost too much for me to bear.  I'm not naive, I know they ultimately have to make their own choices and learn from their own experiences.  We can't live their lives for them--sMothering isn't my style. 

I have a long list of Wants for my girls:
I want them to be happy above all else.  I want them to be patient and know that God has a plan for their lives, and everything doesn't have to happen NOW.  I want them to be free to be themselves; to have enough confidence to be independent thinkers and speak their minds.  I want them to be kind to everyone with no exceptions, have empathy, be perceptive to others feelings.  I want them to be aware of the sometimes long-reaching consequences of their actions.  I want them to appreciate and take full advantage of the opportunities they are given.  I want them to be gracious to a fault.  I want to have an open and honest dialogue with them about their lives.  I want them to know they can come to us about anything, no exceptions, and they will be met with compassion, understanding, and honesty. 

I found some inspiration from other writers with the same desire. (Read a few of their letters here.)  A common theme jumped out at me: they all wanted, more than anything, for their girls to be happy and feel loved.  So I guess this post will be open-ended, and at the end of it maybe I'll have something worthy of reading with them, and if they can take away even one thing from it I'll call it a success. 

I'd love to hear from you, what you want for your children, and how you plan on sharing that with them.  Happy Tuesday, readers!

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