My 15 year old son sat crossed legged in the middle of my bed as I dug through our fire safe. I was looking for his birth-certificate and social security card—documents he would need to take to the DMV the next morning to get his learner’s permit. Our fire safe contains a hodgepodge of items: documents, mementos, recordings, and letters. My son tried on his great-grandfather’s ring, marveled at a two-dollar bill and begged to know when he could cash in his savings bonds.
Finally securing the necessary papers, I took them downstairs and placed them in an envelope for their trip to the DMV. After cleaning up the kitchen, letting the dog out, and putting the clothes in the dryer, I returned to my room to put the fire safe away. There I found my son, still sitting in the middle of my bed, surrounded by the contents of the safe and clutching a sheet of paper. His grip was firm—yet reverent. His expression hard to read—but clearly focused. His eyes glassy with unshed tears.
Mentally scrolling through the list of documents, wondering what could have him so enthralled, I asked what he was reading.
He looked up at me—the look on his face is something I will never forget.
“You wrote this to me,” he said, sounding befuddled.
He untangled his limbs and stood. He held the letter out to me.
“You wrote this to me before I was even born.” His words held a reverence I’d never heard from him. “I….you….I love you mom.”
I was enveloped in his arms. His head resting on my own. His six foot frame towering over mine.
And then he left, the emotion more than his teenage heart could handle. But before he left, he handed me the letter—a letter I don’t recall writing, let alone placing in the safe.
I scanned the first line.
“To my little buddy, I am 23 weeks pregnant with you and this will be the first of many letters that I will write you.”
I sat down on my bed and read the words I had penned over 15 years ago. I have written many letters to him since, but I didn’t remember this one.
I had written of my fears and of faith. I had made him promises and written of all the things we would do together. And about how much I wanted him, how I longed to meet him, and how proud I already was to be his mom.
I made myself cry—reading the letter I still had no memory of writing!!
But my amnesia didn’t matter. All that mattered was that those heart-felt words had touched my son’s heart in a way that I couldn’t have imagined.
I will confess to making a ton of mistakes in this thing called parenting, and no doubt, I will make many more. But I believe that day I accidentally stumbled across something very powerful, a precious tool every parent has in their parenting toolbox—the power of the written word.
My son was able to see the depths of my heart in a way that is easily lost in the torrents of errands, dinner, homework..life. He was able to absorb my words as they were intended, without a lecture or big life lesson tossed in the middle. And he was able to see me as a person—a person struggling with fear, wrestling with my faith, and longing for my heart’s desire.
I tucked the letter back in its envelope and placed it in the fire safe—right behind another envelope.
This one yellowed, with a different name on the front. My name, in my daddy’s handwriting. Inside were letters my dad had written to me. The first one penned when my mom was pregnant with me.
How had I forgotten these letters?
And so I snuggled into my bed and carefully opened the envelope. I held the sheet of paper reverently as I read of my dad’s fears and joys, his hopes and dreams. Of his faith and his love for his family.
Words on a page.
A heart shared through sentences and paragraphs and thoughts.
Such an easy assignment.
Such a vast reward.
You don’t have to be eloquent. It doesn’t have to be long. You don’t have to be a great writer or good at grammar. You just need to be willing to take ten minutes and share a bit of your heart with one you love.
In this day of electronic communication, emojis and gifs, there is something almost sacred about words written on a sheet of paper (or even a napkin).
And even though one day you might forget ever writing those words, they just may end up being one of the most precious gifts you will ever give your child (or anyone).
Do you have a special way of connecting with your child? Do you share letters? Or maybe a special date night? I would love to hear about the ways you share your heart and connect with your kids!