Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter...

A few friends have heard me whine recently about the lack of letters home from one of our daughters who is away at camp. The fact is she has been writing but she has taken to sending the three of us at home letters to share. In other words, she will write to her dad, to her sister and me all at once and select one of us as the recipient each time. She had been away for two weeks by the time I was the designated recipient. In that letter, which happened to be an awesome letter/chock full of info, she let us know at the outset that she rejected any sadness I was feeling at not having been named the recipient earlier (I cannot lie - I had whined about it to her too!). She took a firm stand on the fact that we were all the joint recipients of her letters and the "inbox" in which they were and are received should not matter at all. My husband Jeff agreed with her, applauded her reasoning and offered to hire her as an associate if she ever decides to go to law school. I canvassed a few friends to make sure I wasn't losing my mind! My friends made me feel both supported and sane. Turns out that many of my fellow moms understood why it was important to me to be the recipient of a letter from my child, even if we couldn't articulate why. I could, however, try turning the tables on her. I wrote back a loving note and included the question - how would you feel if I wrote combined letters to you and your sister and addressed them all to her? She hasn't written back yet so I don't know if I'm getting through but I'm willing to bet the response will end up in someone else's "inbox".

I think I've reacted so emotionally to this situation partly because I miss my daughters very much and partly because the changing nature of the mother-daughter relationship, particularly during adolescence, baffles me.  We are on an emotional odyssey, full of twists, turns and unexpected changes in the elements. This same daughter used to write loving letters to me all the time and made me promise to write to her every day that she's away (oh, did I neglect to mention that I write to her every day?!). Speaking of our odyssey, please share Gareth Hinds' The Odyssey with your kids. This is a graphic novel based on Homer's epic poem and it's wonderful - as in truly full of wonder. The illustrations are magnificent and the story is told in such an accessible, digestible way. I love this book and believe that it transcends any age designation - read it aloud to younger kids, read it alongside older kids and read it in a parallel universe with your teens - you'll all be glad you did!

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