The Shared Journal Revival: Mother/Daughter Time

The summer between 6th and 7th grade was an uneasy one for my daughter, Alexa. She was not only filled with excitement but mostly fears about beginning the 7th grade in a new school. She never was one who adapted well to change.

Over the summer, the year before, we’d formed a Mother/Daughter book club with three of her friends and their moms. Once school was out, we made a date at the mall for lunch and to the bookstore, so each of the girls could choose a book that we’d all read over the summer. The book chosen by each of the girls determined the host of the book club meeting. Our book, appropriately called The Mother/Daughter Book Club, was one for which we’d host a pool party and summer treats as we’d talk about the characters and the story. Moreover, the connection was made that we’d begun our own mother/daughter ritual.

Also, that summer, I attended a party at a friend’s house and one of our many treats was that she’d hired a psychic for each of us to be read. Her reading for me included a warning of sorts in that she told me it was the last summer I’d have with my daughter before she entered the stage of wanting to be with her friends all of the time.

I heeded her warning, even though, I was skeptical– knowing my daughter, but also taking into consideration that I’d been through this stage twice with my boys at about the same age.

Coming up with the idea of shared journal is one that Alexa and I began with eagerness that summer. My underlying hope was that she’d confide her fears about the changes happening in her life and to her body in the journal if she felt uncomfortable sharing them in conversation. We wrote back and forth sporadically. She began, and when she completed an entry, she left it under my pillow for me to find, read at my leisure and then respond. Then, I’d leave it under her pillow and the process would repeat.

We kept this up on and off for about two years before, once, one of us has forgotten to respond and the journal lay in her drawer.

She found the journal about a week ago, and read it, feeling bittersweet. Surprised, she shared with me some of what we’d written, having long forgotten about the content, leaving me with the suggestion to read it in its entirety on my own. As a result, we’ve decided to revive the Mother/Daughter journal– appropriately so, as she enters a new stage of her life.

Completely having transitioned from wanting to be Mommy’s little girlfriend to wanting to spend her (almost) every waking moment with her friends. Being pulled in all directions, as a sophomore in high school who is an honor/high honor student, who also plays three sports (field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse)– suffice it to say, her life has taken direction of it’s own. But my daughter, being my daughter, has not lost sight that while we might not have the quantity of time we once had– the time we spend together certainly is quality. We make time to take shopping excursions or eat out for lunch or breakfast or enjoy a spa day. We have shared t.v. time and even talk about the books we are reading. We’ve even established a holiday all of our own– a play-hooky-from-work/school day that we call Donna/Daughter day– just me and her time that we take spontaneously once during the school year.

I know our relationship is bound to go through many more changes, but it’s important to never lose sight of the special bond we have or our quality time.

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MOTHER: TOUCHSTONE

My mother and I laugh at the many, many times throughout my own role as a mother that I have thanked her, apologized to her, validated her angst, appreciated her, sent her flowers just because… because only in having my own children do I KNOW the depth of her unconditional love, unwavering patience and unending sacrifice.

We haven’t always had an easy relationship. It ebbs and flows, and, still, sometimes the storms come, bringing with them tumultuous tides. But through every stage, she has been and will continue to be my touchstone.

I hope I have cultivated that type of relationship with my own children. I’d go so far as to say that my life truly began with each of them. It is only through their eyes that I’ve appreciated my own life. I write to my children, keeping a journal for each of them, so, one day, they will realize all that they’ve meant to me, but I know they will not know until they are parents themselves, and I truly wish each of them will be.

Kids always tend to ask their parents who the favorite is, as I did to my own mother. Not until I had my own did I realize the capacity to love them the same but differently.

This is how I love my children:

RYAN has always had a certain sensitivity which lends him to be the kind-hearted person that he is. While he’s the first born, and has tendencies to expect life to present itself at his feet– he goes out of his way to do kind deeds for others, always caring how other people feel. Ryan is smart and insightful. He has great depth to himself that even he doesn’t realize, yet. He is trustworthy, efficient and dependable; if you want a job done right, you ask Ryan because cares about the outcome of everything he’s involved in. He’s fun to be with because he’s easy going and quick witted. His fascination for the world around him is endless– he sucks in all the knowledge he can, and he’s passionate about it.

He can rattle off more facts about the world (history, politics, geography, culture) than anyone I know. Moreover, he has a strong sense of conviction to act on what he believes in. His lack of fear and independent nature allow him to experience life, but not in a reckless way because he’s savvy and cautious when he needs to be.

TYLERis also sensitive, but emotionally, though it’s something that he only allows few to see. He observes everything– he has a keen sense of innately knowing. Since he was little, he’s always been protective of those he loves, cognizant of not allowing them to be hurt (physically or emotionally). Perhaps the most energetic of my three children, Tyler has a tendency “suck all the marrow of life” (Henry David Thoreau)– he has a certain zest for everything he does; I have always referred to him as my Happy, Jolly Soul. His sense of humor and his positive outlook on life will carry him far. When he loves something, he is focused on being the best he can– his competitive side contributing to this attribute. From the time he was little, he could entertain himself all by himself, at one point he acknowledged to having a movie perpetually playing in his head. He can rattle off quotes from films as if he’s written them himself. And he’s always had a creative side– writing poetry, short stories, drawing cartoons.

ALEXA is what I call My Icing on the Cake. She is sweet and kind and generous. Everyone loves her because of her giving, easy going nature. Kids flock to her because she is fun and attentive. She is perhaps my bravest child, intuitively, because she will try anything once– I’ve never heard her say I’m scared or afraid of challenging herself. She’s the most organized and hard working of my children. Her effort towards whatever she does always exceeds people’s expectations of her. I love to hear her giggle because it’s a melodic belly laugh that reminds me she is so in touch with the child inside her. She doesn’t concern herself with the drama of the kids her age. She shrugs it off and has the patience to just let it ride it’s course. Busy every minute, she never shuns from pitching in or taking on a project of her own. She is adept at following through on everything she starts and then, she stands back, with a sense of pride admiring her accomplishments (no matter how big or how small– she appreciates every one).

Sometimes, when I’m feeling down about myself, I think about my children and realize, if I accomplish nothing else in this world, I’ve had a hand in creating three of the best people I know.

❤ Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, and thank you being a good role model for me and so, so much more!! ❤