Words That Bond

My older son, Jake, turned 21 yesterday. When Jake was born, John’s boss gave us a bottle of vintage port to save for this day. Jake is studying far away, so we will have to wait until he is back home to uncork this beauty that has been gathering dust in our back basement for the past two decades.

All parents understand how quickly time flies. Having a son who is now legal to drink port in every province and state is, well, sobering. I was feeling nostalgic for the “baby years”, and a little sad that I was not able to celebrate Jake’s big day with him. So I took a trip down memory lane instead.

I pulled a large plastic bag from the top shelf of my bookcase, and retrieved a journal from the time of my pregnancy. My cousin Audrey gave me this journal in the summer of 1993. There is a wonderful story behind it.

I had been trying for several years to get pregnant. When I finally conceived, something went seriously wrong—resulting in invasive surgery, a long hospital stay, and a terminated pregnancy. As part of my physical and psychological recovery, my aunt Julie invited me to Florida with my cousins Audrey and Jen. Given my sketchy gynecological history, I feared I would never conceive again.

But several months later, I did become pregnant. And at the three-month mark, Audrey (who was a teacher in Montreal) sent me the beautiful hardcover journal, “Letters To A Child Being Born: A pregnancy journal with quotes, sentiments, and space for writing.” Yesterday I re-read the note Audrey had tucked inside, and started to cry. Here are excerpts from her letter:

“[…] I am thrilled for you and John! I know that you guys will make great parents! You know where to find great babysitters already – and that is Step 1 to good parenting. Step 2 is giving all the love you can, and I know you have a lot to give. […] Now, I will explain this present. Just after we got back from Florida, I took my class on a field trip to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I walked into the bookstore with a few kids and slowly wandered around until I came to the book section. That is where I bought this, confident that I would soon give it to you. It has been patiently waiting on my shelf– but just like I predicted, I am sending it off to you.[…] I know you will be a great mom – and aren’t I always right?”

I wrote religiously in my journal to pre-Jake (although half of my letters start, “Dear Hayley” before an ultrasound confirmed my daughter-to-be was a son). Audrey knew that giving me this journal would help me establish an early bond with my child through writing. It did just that.

After Jake was born, I kept writing to him, and then two years later to his younger brother, Micah. I wrote in a simple lined notebook (nothing as fancy as Audrey’s beautiful journal) during their toddler years. I kept writing to them as they grew. I wrote them when they lost their first few teeth (the letters were from “Tess the Tooth Fairy” tucked under their pillows with shiny dollar coins); I wrote them lengthy birthday cards; I wrote them “letters from home” while they were at sleep-away camp. I wrote them launch letters when they left for university dispensing invaluable maternal wisdom as they flew away from me (they both stuck them on their bulletin boards).

I instilled the importance of writing with heart, and using words to convey love. While my journals, cards and letters are decent-enough, they pale in comparison to the beautiful notes I now receive from my sons.

This past birthday, Jake and Micah were both home, but heading back to university the following day. Here is one line from their birthday card to me.

“Though tomorrow we flee the nest, again, know that we carry you every place we go.”

Now, I need to ask you. Does it get any better than this?

[Originally published on The Relationship Deal]

Sue Nador hashes out expectations in the messy world of love. Follow her on Twitter: @Sue_Nador and her weekly blog The Relationship Deal.

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