Friday, January 28, 2011

Life Letters

On the day I was born, my father wrote me a letter. It's three notebook pages, handwritten in blue ink on the front and back of each page, complete with scribbles over his mistakes. It talks about his hopes and dreams for me as I grow up, and what kind of a person he hoped he could teach me to be. It describes how deep a parent's love is, and how it cannot be measured in increments small enough to compare his love for my sister to his love for me. It mentions his political views and the state of our country in 1980. It's a memoir of what their life was like when I was brought into it. He gave me this letter on my 16th birthday, along with a second letter. This letter recapped the past 16 years, touching on my depression and my mom's death, and confirming that I, in fact, turned out exactly as he hoped I would - bright, mature, respectful, hard-working. I will forever treasure these letters.

While pregnant with Addy, I was excited at the thought of getting to write my own letter to my daughter on the day of her birth. I pondered what I would write, not wanting to copy my father's words, but wanting to express the same ideals. I had decided to handwrite the letter as well, and included paper and pen on my list of items for the hospital bag. Unfortunately, the letter was never written. I quickly realized that, while my dad had time to get his thoughts on paper after I was born, my mom was busy feeding me and getting as much rest as she could. In the few days after her birth, it was impossible for me to take the time to write a letter. And after a few days, once the baby blues really kicked in, I was in no frame of mind to put my thoughts on paper.

I told myself I'd write it on her one month birthday, then her two month birthday, and now I've moved it to the day she turns one. I've rationalized this by thinking, "Cool, that way I can include a recap of her first year!" In truth, I'm really quite upset with myself that the letter was not written on the day of her birth. The whole point was to capture that day - in emotions, hopes, fears, dreams, politics, descriptions - and I can't get that day back. I let myself down, but moreso, I feel like I let her down.


  1. Aww don't beat yourself up too much - I wrote Max a letter on his first birthday... I think it might have taken me a whole year to be able to process parenthood and put my feelings into the right words to express it to him. I meant to do the same for Emmett on his first birthday and am a little behind on that one! I guess part of being a mom is not being able to get everything done just when you want to... :)

  2. Grandpa wrote a letter to Addie on the day she was born. It captures that most wonderful, beautiful, God-inspiring moment in time when my first grandchild was born. Although it's not your words, your thoughts, or your emotions, you will be able to read it and reflect back on that day. The letter that you write on her first birthday, which she will read along with mine on her 16th birthday, will certainly enhance her comprehension of the magnitude of love we all have for her. Although Addie is not allowed to read it until her 16th birthday, I have a copy of the letter on my computer for Matt and you to read anytime. No editing allowed!