I come from a long line of letter writers. There is power in letters. My maternal grandmother was a prolific letter writer. She wrote to me faithfully every single week that I was in college and then well into my married years until she passed away. She made sure that I always knew she loved me; her written words solidified that knowledge every time I read them.
Her daughter, my mother, was also a prolific letter writer. My mom was the queen of Post-It Note letters. She would leave them on my kitchen table seat, the kitchen counter, the laundry room door, my bed, the steering wheel of the car, my desk– any surface was fair game. In college my mom wrote cards and letters to me all the time. Again, she always made sure that I knew she loved me; her written words solidified that knowledge every time I read them.
When my kids were old enough, I began leaving them notes, just as my mother did for me. Usually little reminders about band practice or field trips, but often just notes reminding them how incredible they are. I have used Post-it Notes, the backs of school worksheets, random paper we have lying around. I tell them how much I love them and am proud of them. I’m a mom; it’s just what I do.
This past week my younger daughter, Sadie, turned five. Turning five is a big deal. For Sadie, turning five was an especially big deal because of how she started her life. Sadie was born in Gondar, Ethiopia and was abandoned approximately ten days after her birth. She was found by a policeman and was moved from intake house to intake house multiple times before landing in the orphanage where we eventually met her. We brought her home when she was ten months old. She was very malnourished and was suffering from scabies, a serious staff infection, bronchitis, and emotional trauma. She got better…but it took a long time.
(Sadie at one year old)
My oldest daughter, Sophie, was five when Sadie came home. Sophie wasn’t much for writing at age five but she churned out pictures of rainbows, flying horses, girls in fairy dresses and Seussian- looking houses all day long. She quickly turned her focus to her new baby sister, creating drawings to hang in her nursery or near her highchair. Drawings gave way to pictures with captions and eventually, letters. The desire to write meaningful letters was in her DNA.
On Sadie’s birthday, Sophie wrote her a letter. When Sophie read this letter out loud to me and my husband, my heart just about exploded:
(Letter from nine-year-old Sophie to five-year-old Sadie)
She bought her little sister the princess Barbie she had requested and even wrapped it herself. But the gift that was most meaningful was this letter. As a mother I will treasure it always. Someday when Sadie is old enough to appreciate it, I know that she will treasure it too. It is my hope that Sadie will always know how much her big sister loves her and that reading these words will solidify that knowledge every time she reads them.
Write letters to your children. Give them a tangible piece of paper with your feelings on it. Sophie is simply continuing a practice that is 50+ years in the making, expressing her love on paper. I couldn’t be prouder.