I loved snuggly bedtime with my little daughters. With nine years between them, I had the luxury of being able to devote lots of time at the end of the day to each girl when she was tiny. We would always read a story or two, "talk about the day", say prayers, and sing a song while laying on our backs with pillows behind our heads. My girls' favorite bedtime ritual, though, was always the "Favorites" game.
I would lead by saying, "Okay, what's your favoriiiittttte..." and then fill in the blank with things like: Disney movie, cookie flavor, friend on the playground, thing about Daddy, pair of shoes, baby animal... The list was endless, and those precious moments when my little brown-eyed girl would furrow her brow in concentration and twirl her hair around her finger, trying to come up with her perfect answer, will forever be memories that I treasure.
As my younger daughter has charged full-force into teenagehood, I was missing those counted-on nights on her bed when we'd sing and talk and read, side-by-side. I started praying about what I could do to help facilitate regular, deeper conversations.
Enter Julie. (You might remember this lovely friend of mine from a post last year about healthful eating.) Julie is the kind of person who is just plain INSPIRING. We connect on a spiritual level nearly every time we talk, and her brilliant / compassionate nature never fails to leave me wanting to reach higher in every area of my life.
I was telling Julie about my desire with my daughter, and she immediately said, "Let me tell you about the notebook idea. It's working beautifully with my girls." As she started describing this idea, I KNEW I needed to start this with my daughter. Here, I'll let Julie tell you about it in her own words:
"The idea hit me on a Sunday afternoon as I held the remnants of a note, colored in five neon shades, folded into an octagon with the words "I like Carson. Which boy do you like? ____________ (write answer here)" I was instantly transported decades back to days where passed notes under the noses of teachers and posted in lockers were the chosen form of communication. I looked at my four daughtrs. Teetering on the brink of young womanhood, I know some of what the next few years will hold. New discoveries. Self-discovery. Happiness. Despair. Drama. Questions. In that moment, holding the note, I wanted to be a part of it all. I wanted to journey with my girls through their own uncharted waters. I wanted to be the recipient of notes that articulate in writing what i too scary ever to say face to face. I wanted to be the one on the end of the conversations too embarrassing to have with anyone else.Isn't this a fabulous idea?? (and so beautifully described by my friend) The flowered notebook that you see above on my daughter's bedside table is the little volume of written conversation that she and I are developing. It is nothing short of a revelation for us, and my heart leaps each time I flip through the pages to find a new note, written to me, with her own insights, questions, and kind words.
"As these thoughts crossed my mind, so did the solution. A notebook. I purchased four notebooks, put one on the bed of each of my daughters. I took them aside individually and explained that this notebook was to be a tool for each of them to communicate with me. It would be a place where they could write any question, concern or feeling to me without worry about embarrassment or repercussions. I told them the things in the book would stay there. I would answer in writing, but would not bring it up, unless they initiated the conversation. I would check their books every few days to see if there were entries.
"What a treasure these notebooks have become. They have become a ground for compliments, questions, apologies, and explanations. They have covered topics as diverse as religion, the "facts of life", repentance, dinner and stuffed animals. Most of all, they have been a way for me to insure that I get needed downtime to ponder, pray and respond to the needs of my daughters without any knee jerk reaction. The expressions of love and admiration for one another have flowed freely. I hope some day, my daughters will keep these notebooks, and as they thumb through the pages will find answers to questions, tender memories, and mostly, a clear understanding of how much they were loved by their mother."