Leave a Legacy in Letters

About two weeks ago, my five-year old called me out of the kitchen: Mom! Come quick! You’ve gotta see this.

At the level of excitement in his voice, how could I say no? What was happening? He claimed to have found a hair growing “on my privates” and declared, “Now we know that when you’re five and half, your private hair starts to grow! Isn’t that so cool?” Followed by the funny chuckle he gives when he’s happy with himself.

First, the hair was just normal body fuzz that he’s got all over his body. He was my hairy baby and that hasn’t changed. So, nope. My kid is not shockingly advanced in his ability to produce hormones.

What he does have though, is a sense of wonder with the world. He is enamored with  his experience as a human being. His body fascinates him, he’s starting to get more into trying new foods, and he spends hours looking in the dirt for evidence for other life forms. The bugs and critters in our yard keep this effort going with occasional guest appearances.

I write down stories about what he says and does in a journal just for him. I have one for his sister too. In the journals I keep for my kids, every entry is in the form of a letter. There’s a greeting, I write to them in first person, and I share my own thoughts and reactions.

Each time I pick up that pen to write, I’m leaving a legacy for my kids. It’s not quite like leaving them a huge business, bank account, or collection of silver, but it has it’s own value.

These letters capture moments of their childhood that would otherwise be lost. The format is easy to save and when the time is right, they’ll receive one awesomely sentimental gift from mom.

But, what about baby books? Baby books are beautiful keepsakes and I have a lot of respect for the mommies and daddies who make the time to fill their acid-free pages with photos and captions. (I also have lots of friends who sigh heavily and claim they wish they were keeping up with their baby books.)

I am not a member of that group. I fall in the camp of that-is-a-great-idea-but-I-know-I-won’t-make-time-for-it sooo….keep it super simple and super easy. I write my kids letters on the pages of individual journals. I take lots of photos that we can all enjoy. And at some point, I may put the two together for a high school graduation gift, but for now, simple is what gets done.

What about you? Are you a baby book maker? Or would it be easier to leave a legacy that was quick and easy to do?

Sara Marchessault is a writer, publisher, teacher, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times. For ideas on how you can get the benefits of journal writing without always keeping a traditional journal, check out Sara’s book, Beyond Pen & Paper: 33 Experiments in Journaling.

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