We can only hope our kids grow up to flip through the photo albums, read the journals or watch the home videos that we've worked hard to put together chronicling their amazing childhoods.
I do all the above?but I have one secret way I have been holding on to those precious moments for each of my 3 children.
Each year on their birthday, I write individual "love letters" to Jake, Hunter and Zeke, then seal them in envelopes and put them away.? I plan to hand each of my 3 boys a packet full of love letters when they turn 18 years old.?
Then it's up to them to decide when they open the letters and discover what mom said to them in any given year on their birthdays.
Since all of their birthdays are coming up in the next week, I thought I'd share the basic idea and framework with you, and let you decide if love letters to your children are something you want to try.?
And by the way, it's never too late to start.? Whether your child is 3 years old, 8 years old, 14 years old or a grown-up, I'm sure all of them would appreciate reading some intimate thoughts you took the time to record about them!
I use a plain piece of white paper and handwrite the love letters so that the message comes through loud and clear.
You may decide to buy pretty stationery or print something with a cute border for your letter.
And I think handwritten is important, because by the time my children are adults, they'll be reading everything off a screen or in a computer document.? I think having a handwritten letter will add to the treasure and novelty.
I date the letter at the top, and then write it in real letter form.?
Then I put it in a plain white envelope with their name, their age and the year on it so they can read them in order if they want, or read them randomly later.
I won't disclose actual things I've said to any of my sons, for their privacy and to maintain the specialness of what I've told them.
But here's a pretend letter to give you an example.?
April 12, 2011
Dear son/daughter (insert their name here),
It's your second birthday, and I'm just bursting with pride at all the amazing things I've watched you learn to do in the past year.
You can run so fast and jump so high... I'm sure you'll be in the Olympics if you keep that up!! And even though I watched you fall down a lot along the way, I loved your spirit where you'd dust yourself off and dry the tears?then try again.? It's that never-give-up attitude that makes me so proud of you.
? I love taking you to music classes and to the park where you never seem to get enough swinging, climbing and playing.? You look so cute when you try to say "Higher, momma" which comes out in a garbled language that only you and I understand.
? There are so many special moments I've had with you in the last year?seeing you try finger paints which became a Picasso-style face paint in the end.? Watching you chase our cat and me having to break up the duel before you got bitten! ?
??Christmas is so magical with you there to rip the bows off the packages and play with the ornaments on the tree.? I love the way you "ooh" and " aah" when we first flip the lights on after the tree's decorated!? Of course, Easter egg hunts, Halloween and everything in between are more fun because of you.? Who knew that a firefighter looked more official with a chocolate bar smudged on his face?
? It's even more heartwarming to see the way you play with your brothers and even look out for them.? You're still learning to share, which I don't expect you to know how to do at this age.? But I love the way you sit together and roll the wheels of your favorite car side by side, or read books in our book nook in the family room.? What mother ever wants moments like that to pass?
? So Happy Birthday, to my amazing ______(name)____! For you truly have shown me how to slow down my life, take a look at what's important, and smile more often!
? I love you with all my heart!
You get the idea.?
The key to a good letter is that you include specifics about their age and behavior at that level, so that all the letters are different over the time period.
My oldest son, Jake, turns 11 years old this weekend.? He now has 11 secret letters in my drawer.?
My twins turn one next week.? I wrote each of them their first love letter last night.
Maybe my sons will think the letters are dumb... I hope not.
Instead, maybe they'll cherish the letters and tuck them away to show their own children someday.? And I hope they'll be inspired to take 15 minutes once a year, to write down a love letter to their own children, and keep the heart-to-heart sweetness going.
All the best,