As our children grow and especially once they head off to school, it can be a little jarring to realise that they are becoming their own little people, with emerging private worlds of their own. It is a glorious thing of course.... we want them to be independent! But like most parents, I've also been really aware of wanting to keep those channels of communication open as they start to venture into the big wide world! Especially as these early years slowly but surely morphing into the tween years (and, like, 'tweens' didn't even exist when I was one, lol)... and then the teens. Eeeek...what a ride we have ahead!
I am not even sure now how this precious routine emerged. Something to do with a glut of beautiful little notebooks and a very eager little letter writer and pen pal. My eight year old daughter, Lily, is the kind of kid who pre-writes responses to her pen pal friends so as soon as a letter arrives she has one ready to send in reply. Ha!!!
So, about a year ago we began to write letters to each other in the pages of a journal. These notes were written 'in secret' then the book was surreptitiously placed under the pillow of the other person for them to discover. Often accompanied by a few eager and not-so-subtle hints of 'have you looked under your pillow lately??'
There has been a beautiful and gentle evolution to these letters, especially as her writing skills and stamina have improved over time and her desire grew to write more and more. Lily had the idea that we should ask each other a question in each letter, which we then answer, as well as writing about our day, our thoughts and anything that's happening in our family. It's even been a safe place to write about miscommunications and some hurt feelings. Sometimes, the journal has been passed back and forth several times in a day, other times a week or even a month can go by before it is delivered under a pillow again. Life gets in the way, you know! And that's okay.... the journal is there when we need it. Sometimes I need a few reminders before I get a chance to reply and sometimes I have to teasingly request a little return mail from my daughter too!
How fascinating it is to have a peek into her world, to hear about her favourite things and to be charmed by her questions and insights about life and family and her many dreams and big ideas. She is her own little person, and so utterly lovely to get to know. She is getting to know me too, in a different way (as a real person, not just a mother haha!), as we ask each other questions as friends do.
It's also been a bonus to have all our notes bound safely into one book rather than loose papers that often get waylaid... or is that just me?! Best of all has been having a blossoming conversation with my daughter that I hope and pray will continue to evolve and mature over the years as we do the same.
Day by day, letter by letter, we grow together xx