Yesterday I missed writing to you because my car broke down and both of you kids got sick, all in one day. Wonderful! I’m trying to figure out how to make lemonade in all of this. I will rest and see!
So I was sitting at your nana’s house, and rather than pick up a book or watch T.V. in my few spare moments, I decided I would sit by the kitchen window and stare out it. It was a thought I had, and so I followed it to see where it would lead (obviously I don’t do this that often—maybe only on a beach veranda or a cabin porch). Out the window I saw cloudy skies, raindrops sitting on the window pane, scrawny branches stretching over the puffy white and gray skies. Everything stood still. Looking for at least a squirrel to scamper through the parked cars…nothing. Beautiful stillness. Everything at rest. Just like me. I thought about why I didn’t do this more often. I thought about how nice it was not to have an agenda, or even anything weighing on my mind (miraculously). I thought about how childlike it felt to sit and look. Then it came to mind how I wanted to teach you the art of stillness and contemplation and their worth. After thinking about it some more, my mind immediately connected the thought to something I read earlier that day, on the subject of writing:
“The personality behind the writing is so important. This is what I call the Third Dimension. On the paper there are all the neatly written words and sentences. It may be completely objective, with “I” not written there once. But behind the words and sentences, there is this deep, important, moving thing—the personality of the writer. And whatever the personality is, it will shine through the writing and make it noble or great, or touching or cold or niggardly or supercilious or whatever the writer is.
…But I think—and so did Socrates and Michelangelo and many others—that the ideas of a meager and dishonest personality are no good. They are corrupt somewhere. And most important of all, if he has good ideas, but is not good himself there is no infection; nobody will be really affected by his ideas, enkindled or changed.”
The words stayed with me like butter on fingertips. While I was reading them, I related them to my writing. And I secretly longed to be that better person, the kind of person that could infect people through my writing in an honest way. But then as I sat there at the window pondering and delighting in the simple treasures that were there, I thought about you, and how I long to teach you things, show you things, experience new things with you. Even through my subconscious I want to be imparting and infecting truth and beauty to you. I want you to be the kind of person that will be comfortable in stillness and silence. The kind of person that enjoys nature and getting uncomfortable outside because the beauty, wonder and excitement of the outdoors far outweighs any physical discomfort (as you are right now at three, or course). I want you to be the kind of person that could sit and talk to God for hours and know that He was listening to your sweet voice and tender heart. The kind of person who will listen back. Then as I remembered the words I read, it became more than just about writing. It lit up my mind in the ways of living, and leading, and loving. Even just being a human being. For personality, I thought character, heart and spirit were also fitting. For writing, I thought teaching, shaping, leading applied. And in my spirit I knew I had to take this one in and sit with it awhile. That is, in order for me to lead you into the woman God wants you to be, I must be her. That’s not to say I must be perfection. And of course that’s not to say you and I are going to be exactly alike (I’d hope not!). Or that I can’t teach you something I myself haven’t had much experience with yet (although it helps!). It is more about the fact that you are watching me and imitating what I do much more than the words on my page, the words I speak, the lessons I teach. What’s going to stick is what you see, feel and experience with me in this life we have together, right now, tomorrow, and so on. I will have to then rely on being the sort of character that I would hope you to be someday (even now). Teaching with words is so limited. And not only that. There’s no faking it as a mom. You’re going to know. You’re going to read between the lines and know, even as much as you are reading between the lines now. So I don’t want anything to hide. I’m an “open book” (I hate clichés but that one was hard to avoid!). I’m not afraid!
And now I find myself strangled by the need to be absolutely honest with you. After all, if I don’t, you’ll know it through my writing anyways. The truth is, “Letters to Sadie” didn’t start out as purely as I wish it could have. By pure, I mean that there were many motives for wanting to write you letters, and I feel I should make them clear to you, as embarrassing as they might sound. First of all, I was hoping that they’d make me a better writer as I wrote consistently for this year. Then I wanted to prove to myself that I could follow through and finish something. Third, I have a lot of stuff thoughts on a daily basis, and I thought this would be a good way to focus my thoughts, into letters, to you, my sweet daughter whom I love to talk to. THEN, I even thought, What if something in them inspires a book I could write one day?...Hmmmm. All of these motives? About me. Self-centered little me. It’s true, I enjoy writing. It’s how I process life. Ultimately I hope to write for the glory of God. In a children’s book, a nonfiction piece, maybe a columnist? I have no idea. So there you have it. Selfish motives plus pleasure and personal gain, mixed in with a little sentimental mush and a lot of love for my girl. Ouch. I don’t want to paint myself to be something I’m not. I’m not a genius. I’m not super-talented at anything. I’m not everyone’s best friend. I’m just your mom. But to God, I’m not “just” anything. I am His. And I am on a journey of self- and God- discovery, just like you. Yes, even at thirty-three we don’t have it figured out. And guess what, my mom, as smart and as experienced as she is at sixy-five, doesn’t have it all figured out either. Aren’t you glad? To be cliché, life is meant to be lived, not just talked about. Having you kids has helped bring out my purpose in life, however complicated or unclear that purpose might seem. It’s still a purpose, and there’s always a path. I’m still “journaling” along, so that’s kind of what this is. I just kind of thought I’d take you on a little ride. Piggy-back?
So if this is the truth, then why even write to you? Why not just live? Maybe I’m wasting my time? As I sit and process this and think about how my mind will change about all of this tomorrow probably…or quite possibly I won’t even understand any of it myself, I have to remember that all of my motives for writing you are okay, as shallow as they ever might be. I’m writing. I’m doing something I love. I’m following my passions, as I hope you do someday. So I’m going to leave it at that. And if I don’t finish the 365 days, whatever! At least you will have a piece of me that I gave freely, even if it is at the expense of my failure, or highlights my tendency to change course at the drop of a hat.
At the window, you joined me not too long after (a mom is lucky to get five minutes of stillness in one day J ), and I tried to get you to sit on my lap and look past the panes with me. But even for children it is hard to sit still for very long (surprise, surprise). You wanted to go outside and play. I guess the puddles looked inviting to your stir-crazy imagination and adventurous spirit, because you were like a puppy dog pulling the leash, Come on, Mommy!