By now you’ve surely heard of The Mother Letter Project?In case you haven’t, here’s the skinny:Inspired by the Advent Conspiracy, husband and wife agree to create presents for each other instead of buying gifts, and donate the difference to help others. The husband, God bless his creative, thoughtful soul, decides to collect a series of “open letters” from mothers, to mothers. He explains on the website:
Share your stories—no matter how raw or difficult. Share you concerns—no matter how foolish they may seem. Share your wisdom—no matter how you came by it. Share your mother story. The only request? Start the letter “Dear Mother” and sign it. I will compile all of the letters in a Christmas book for my wife.
In response, many mothers’ hearts stream down the comments under this post at the site. You can submit your Mother Letter there, but apparently many others have been submitted to him via e-mail, as well. And some, like the one I’m offering, are also posted at the blog of the letter’s author.As his invitation has spread across the mama-blogosphere, moms are offering what bits of wisdom and insight they’ve gained thus far in their parenting adventure. And I can’t help but think of the lesson I was reminded of in my recent moment of Ann-insecurity (would that be “Annsecurity”?)–that all the different stories and bits of advice are a reminder that motherhood is a multi-faceted, personal-yet-communal experience. Many stories should be told, because the specifics of one personal revelation may be just what’s needed for another mom to be encouraged.In other words, just as both Anns (this Ann and that Ann) along with thousands of other Anns and Susans and Helens and Elizabeths have blogs reflecting their unique ways of thinking and communicating, every mom has a letter to write to this mother.If you haven’t yet composed your mother letter, please consider participating. I know I’d love to read your letter, so I’m sure this woman, the recipient-Mother of The Mother Letter Project, will be blown away. Wouldn’t you like to be part of that?Here’s the letter I composed. I wanted to share it with you, as well.
Dear Mother,*Blink*That’s how fast it happens. I’m sure you’ve noticed it. When you brought home your newborn, you probably fell into some kind of rhythm and routine. Next thing you know…*Blink*Baby starts rolling over. And crawling.*Blink*Now he’s toddling and talking.*Blink*First day of first grade: he climbs onto the school bus with a cartoon-emblazoned lunchbox in hand, turns around to wave, smiles and “catches” every kiss you blow.*Blink*Eighth grade: he shuffles onto the school bus jamming to an iPod and glances back, hoping you don’t embarrass him publicly.*Blink*“Mom, can I have the car keys?”*Blink*You’re shopping for extra-long twin sheets for dorm room beds.Okay, I’m only speculating about the car keys and sheets. I’m not quite there yet—but it’s coming. Soon.I know, because…I’ve blinked.*Blink*Other moms warned me about the mom-blink.“Enjoy them while they’re little,” they’d advise. “Savor every moment now, because you just blink, and…oh, they grow up so fast!”I appreciated the sentiment, but no one would tell me how.How was I supposed to savor changing three-ton diapers, mopping spit-up off the kitchen floor and chasing after my toddler only to find him splashing his hands in the toilet water?How was I supposed to enjoy them while facing a mountain of laundry, and I was so tired the only way I could keep my eyes open was to prop them up with toothpicks and guzzle a jug of black tea…how?I’m the mother of two teens, an 11-year-old and a seven-year-old. So I can attest to what those moms were saying: they do grow up in the blink of an eye.Now I would like to offer something no one managed to pass on to me—an idea of how to enjoy and savor the kids while they’re little.I suppose it sounds like a no-brainer, but here it is:Slow down.Does that sound obvious? Forgive me, but it took me a little while to “get it.”I had to choose to slow down enough to look each child in the eye.I had to remember to slow down enough to smile…to laugh…to relax…to breathe deeply.In the early days of parenting, I wasn’t slowing down enough to listen to what my girls were really saying. I needed to learn to ask a follow-up question and listen a little longer.I grew to love slowing down enough to read a story… slowly…more than once.To play UNO and Monopoly. That takes a while!I love living slowly enough to sit down for a meal…at the table…and give thanks.You may already slow down enough to let your kids enjoy some free time to play uninterrupted. You’ve seen them build an imaginary fortress or fairy land, and your schedule may be flexible enough to just hang out with them and watch them build. Instead of dragging them off to the umpteenth organized activity, you may be living slowly enough to take them sledding.No, wait a minute. If you’re already living that slowly, you know you can let your husband take them sledding.While you sit and sip hot tea.And while you’re sitting there sipping tea, or coffee, or chai—not because you need the caffeine, but to enjoy the flavor and the smell and the feel of the warm mug against your hands—you yourself are slowing down. You’re stopping…stopping to savor these moments of motherhood that race past in a blink.When you slow down like that, when for a few minutes you forget Mount Laundry and the blob of spit-up on the kitchen floor, life isn’t such a blur.Living a slower life, you can see things more clearly. You’ll sit in the quiet and look out the window—really look—at the snow angels and lumpy snowmen formed by mittened hands in the back yard.You can feel.You can pray for your children…for their hearts, their souls, their just-a-blink-away futures.And when you do this, when you slow down like this, it’s okay to go ahead and blink. You can even shut your eyes for a few minutes and recall a look or a lisp or a laugh. You aren’t missing anything at all.Enjoy the peace.Later, you’ll open your eyes when the kids and your husband tumble in the back door, chunks of snow dropping from their snowsuits and boots…they’ll beg you for hot chocolate and popcorn. You’ll look at their pink-cheek grins and chattering teeth and crazy hair smashed and smooshed by their knit caps, and you’ll sigh. This. This is what those moms meant. And thank the Lord your life was slow enough to see it and savor it…and so was theirs.This is how.We all know that they grow up fast.All the more reason to slow down.Merry Christmas!Ann Kroeker