Guest Columnist Becky Fawcett: “A Childless Life Was Never An Option For Me”

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Becky Fawcett lives in Manhattan with Kipp, her husband of 16 years, and two children, Jake, 7, and Brooke, 3. She is executive director, on a pro bono basis, of Helpusadopt.org (http://helpusadopt.org/), a non-profit organization she and her husband founded in 2007 in response to their own adoption experience. Helpusadopt.org enables couples and individuals to overcome financial hurdles to adopting children. In its five-year existence, it has awarded $570,000 in adoption grants to build 73 families. Becky owns The Fawcett Group, a lifestyle public relations and marketing firm.

 

Dear Jake and Brooke,

 

I know you always wonder why sometimes when I look at you my eyes fill with tears. And why I never miss an opportunity to say “I love you” even if it’s fifty times a day. It’s because you are my miracles. Let me try to tell you why.

 

My first miscarriage was the worst. At 16 weeks I was confident I was out of the woods and I was pregnant enough for the whole world to know. So I was unable to experience the loss privately.

 

My second miscarriage, at 12 weeks, was equally devastating, but at least private.

 

My third, at 10 weeks, happened on Christmas Eve, leaving me too numb even to cry.

 

Three pregnancies, three miscarriages. I had expected the road to my children to be easy and with each miscarriage I felt my dream starting to slip away.

 

Yet a childless life was never an option for me. I was born to be a mother. I needed to be a mother. I had to be a mother. Being a mother was in my DNA. The question was never “if” I would have children; it was “how many” would I have?

 

At that moment, then, I committed myself to building my family through adoption.

 

The process of adoption was different from what I had imagined. It was long, arduous and expensive. Sometimes in life, you have to make compromises, to acquiesce. But not this time. Nothing was going to stand in the way of my becoming a mother; I would do whatever it took to make it happen. I would fight and fight hard.

 

I was there when you entered this world, Jake. And when I held you in my arms and you officially became mine, your eyes opened wide. To this day I believe you knew exactly why you were there — to heal my broken heart.

 

As for you, Brookie, I was on the phone with your birth mother as she went into the delivery room. The minute you arrived — three weeks early, by the way; you had just decided you were ready — your birth father texted me a picture of you. Once your birth mother placed you in my arms, I kissed you. I wanted never to let you go.

 

When I watched Dad hold you and Jake at the same time, I realized that was my world right there — the three of you. What I understood as we had our first “family hug” was that “how” I became a mother mattered less than the reality of getting to be one. I count my blessings every day that Dad and I were in a position to afford it.

 

So that, in brief, was the journey, the struggle, that brought you both to me (and me to you, for that matter). I wanted to be a mother so badly. But becoming a mother was harder than anything I’ve ever done in my life. I endured physical and emotional pain beyond anything I had imagined. Some days I can hardly believe how hard I had to fight. It nearly destroyed me.

 

But it was worth it, just as I knew it would be.

 

I’ll never forget your birth mothers, of course, nor will you. Because I was unable to achieve motherhood on my own, I had to rely on these two women, these beautiful, selfless, kind-hearted, courageous and loving women. They, after all, are the women who carried you to term, who loved you first. It was they who chose me to be your mother, and they who then placed you in my arms.

 

They are the women I still see today when I look in your eyes. They will always be part of who you are, and now they are also part of who I am, too.

 

My three pregnancies, my three miscarriages, each brought me one step closer to both of you—one step closer to motherhood. Little did I realize that just as my dream of having a child was dying — this, Jake, is how you so eloquently put it — a new dream was waiting.

 

I love you more than life itself.

 

Love, Mom

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Guest Columnist Anne-Carole Grosh-Cooper: How To Write A Love Letter To Your Child

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Anne-Carole Grosh-Cooper lives in northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two children, Lana and Raphael. A former secondary education teacher, she is a stay-at-home-mom and a freelance writer on behalf of Cardstore. She juggles writing and attempting to keep a clean house with being a mom/friend/drill instructor. For more about Cardstore, see here:  http://www.cardstore.com/

There is no more important person you can compose a love letter to for Valentine’s Day than the love of your life: your child. Some relationships may fade in and out of your life, but your love for your child will be lifelong.

 

The written word is permanent and enduring, different from words spoken aloud, which may tumble out clumsily.

Here are some tips about how to write a love letter to your son or daughter that will be fondly remembered for years to come.

 

1. Gather Your Thoughts
Take a few moments to think about what you want to tell your child and jot down an outline. Sometimes a visual reminder of the points you want to touch on and the tone you want to take can help keep your letter on-track.

Sample Outline:

A)  Why you’re writing 

·         What you love about your child

·         What you hope they’ll get out of this letter

B.) A Valentine’s Story

·         Valentine’s Day from your youth

·         Valentine’s Day now with your child

C.) A Valentine’s Wish

·         For now

·         For the future


2. Remember Why You’re Writing
It’s the little details that mean a lot. As a parent, you likely notice so many such details about your child’s ever-evolving personality. It’s these details that endear your child to you. Jennifer Wolf, parent advocate, coach, educator, and About.com columnist, compiled a list of seven words to use as prompts in letters to your child.

·         Love

·         Notice

·         Enjoy

·         Proud

·         Cherish

·         Hope

·         Believe


3. Tell A Story
Share memories of Valentine’s Days from your own youth — either as a child or from the early days of your courtship with your spouse. Your child will always want to learn more about where he or she comes from.

Example: When I was little, my Mom and Dad — your grandparents — always made Valentine’s Day special. Actually, they made the day after Valentine’s Day even more special. On Valentine’s Day, they’d give both me and my brother (your uncle) a small toy. I’d usually get an action figure that I’d been eyeing in the toy store weeks before. The following day, my parents would give us two boxes of candy each. They explained the reason: they loved us twice as much. In later years, they explained that the red, heart-shaped boxes of candy were two-for-one the day after Valentine’s Day, so we could get double the candy for the same price. What kid is going to complain about getting more candy?

4. Keep It Short and Sweet
Kids have short attention spans. (To be fair, so do some adults.) Try to keep your letter to just one page. More people quote from the sweet and simple words of Dr. Seuss than they do passages from Tolstoy’s “War And Peace.” Referring to your outline can help you condense your thoughts and pack more meaning into a short space.

 

5. Be Authentic
How you say it is maybe even more important than what you say. Be the real you, the parent your child knows and loves. Love comes from the heart. Years down the line, your child will have a lasting — and accurate — memory of you.

 

Example: This Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that even when I yell at you, I still love you. You may hear “Go to your room!” or “You’re grounded!” more often than “I’m proud of you,” but it makes me no less proud to be your parent. In fact, sometimes I’m secretly proud of you for the very reason that I sent you to your room. I’m proud of you for always being you. And I hope you feel the same about me as your parent when you look back 20 years from now.

Guest Columnist Marcie Riger: One Fairy Tale Ended, But Another Began

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Marcie Riger, who lives in West Milford, New Jersey with her boyfriend, Steve Agnello, has four children: Matthew 30, Blair 27, Paige 24, and Kevin 21.She works in a dental office. In her spare time, she loves to go to the beach, get lost in a good book and spend quality time with her girlfriends.

Dear Matthew, Blair, Paige and Kevin,

We started as a typical family. Dad goes off to work and coaches baseball and softball. Mom stays home for 19 years, chairs the local PTA, coaches soccer, even drives a “soccer van,” trying to get four kids to a different field, all at the same time.

Then, somewhere along the way, little by little, our fairy tale life unraveled. Dad lost his job and remained out of work for two years. Nothing was ever the same after that.

For starters, money was always an issue. Worse was the lying about money. We also refused to talk about it, creating a tension we could never resolve.

Then came more job losses, compounded by health issues, plus a lot of pent-up anger. I finally admitted to myself something my friends already knew from all my crying: I had been unhappy, unbearably so, for more than ten years. I realized I had to get out of my marriage before it dissolved into an emotional black hole.

Scary stuff. It would mean giving up the home we had created. It would mean people would talk. But I knew there had to be a better life out there. So your Dad and I separated after 30 years of marriage. I never thought this would be me.

Then my life turned around yet again. I went to a 40th high school reunion. It was there that I ran into Steve, an old friend from the neighborhood. He had always made me laugh. He used to come over my house to play and give me piggyback rides. We went through elementary school together and we were in the same class in third grade.

Steve and I met for breakfast at a diner the following week, and right away I knew. Despite my determination never to have another serious romantic relationship, something very special was happening here.

Nothing came easy, though. I was still uncoupling from our marriage. Steve was still involved in a serious relationship. So we had to figure out what to do. I loved how happy I was with Steve. I knew in my heart I was meant to spend the rest of my life with him. And now, as luck and fate and destiny would have it, Steve and I are living together. I’m happy beyond any expectations I could ever have imagined.

Why am I telling you all this? I’ll tell you why.

Because, my beautiful, amazing children, each of you a dream come true for me, we’ve all gone through a lot of turmoil, especially in the last two-and-a-half years, and it’s important to me that you better understand how we all got to where we are now, and at last it’s time for us all to heal.

Because I’m always going to be your Mom and always going to be there for you and I love being your Mom and – you’ve heard my say so a million times – consider it my best work and the proudest, most joyous reward of my entire life.

And because, above all, in the years to come, I wish for you to experience the same love and friendship with a special person that I’ve miraculously discovered, all these years later, with Steve.

Marcie_riger_and_steve

Guest Columnist Ben Michaelis: Just For You, A Quiz On Self-Love

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Dr. Ben Michaelis lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and children, Juliet and Charlie, ages 5 and 2. His book, YOUR NEXT BIG THING: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy was released last December. Currently in full-time private practice as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Michaelis specializes in blending play and creativity with mental health. He has served on the faculty of Lenox Hill Hospital and is currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. His writing appears regularly on The Huffington Post.com and Psychologytoday.com, among other publications. For more information about him, please visit http://www.drbenmichaelis.com, and follow him on Twitter @drbenmichaelis.

Dear Juliet and Charlie,

 

Because you’re both still quite young right now, what Valentine’s Day basically means to you is chocolate. Which, believe me, I respect. For me, and for many others, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to think about, and demonstrate, my love for those most important to me.

 

So here’s a letter you can read when you’re old enough to, and interested in reflecting on, this holiday.


The long and short of it all is this: to get the love you want, you have to love yourself first. Why, you ask?  What’s self-love got to do with it?

 

Let me answer your questions with this three-question quiz about self-love:

 

[1]When you read the words “Self-Love,” how do you feel?

 

(1) Fine.

 

(2) Uncomfortable. 

 

(3) Disgusted.

 

[2]Imagine a friend of yours told you that she had worked hard to learn to love herself. What would you think?

 

(1) Good for her. She is growing and getting healthy.

 

(2) That sounds pretty good, but I hope that she avoids becoming self-centered and forget where she comes from.

 

(3) My friend has been listening to shrink-talk nonsense.

 

[3]Picture someone who loves himself or herself. What do you imagine that person will be like?

 

(1) Quietly confident.

 

(2) Bold and maybe a little brash, but fundamentally self-assured.

 

(3) Arrogant and disrespectful.

 

So, how did you do? 

 

Add up the scores (1, 2, or 3) on the three questions from this quiz and look below to consider how you feel about the idea of self-love.

Score 3–4: You probably already love yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin.

 

Score 5–6: You are on the path toward loving yourself, but you occasionally doubt whether loving yourself is healthy or “right.”

 

Score 7–9: Self-love is either a foreign concept that you have never considered, or you have thought about it and the thought makes you feel sick.

 

Whatever you scored, I hope the quiz made you think about self-love, because again, only a person who loves himself or herself first can give love freely to others. And if you feel loved and believe in yourself, you’ll be giving, gentle and kind. You’ll be calm, consistent and confident, too.

 

You’ll also realize there’s plenty of love to go around. And you’ll have the faith to see the glory in — and inspire — others.

  

Much love and many blessings,

Dad 

Ben_michaelis_book

Guest Columnist Ben Michaelis: Just For You, A Quiz On Self-Love

Ben-michaelis_photo

Dr. Ben Michaelis lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and children, Juliet and Charlie, ages 5 and 2. His book, YOUR NEXT BIG THING: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy was released last December. Currently in full-time private practice as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Michaelis specializes in blending play and creativity with mental health. He has served on the faculty of Lenox Hill Hospital and is currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. His writing appears regularly on The Huffington Post.com and Psychologytoday.com, among other publications. For more information about him, please visit http://www.drbenmichaelis.com, and follow him on Twitter @drbenmichaelis.

Dear Juliet and Charlie,

 

Because you’re both still quite young right now, what Valentine’s Day basically means to you is chocolate. Which, believe me, I respect. For me, and for many others, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to think about, and demonstrate, my love for those most important to me.

 

So here’s a letter you can read when you’re old enough to, and interested in reflecting on, this holiday.


The long and short of it all is this: to get the love you want, you have to love yourself first. Why, you ask?  What’s self-love got to do with it?

 

Let me answer your questions with this three-question quiz about self-love:

 

[1]When you read the words “Self-Love,” how do you feel?

 

(1) Fine.

 

(2) Uncomfortable. 

 

(3) Disgusted.

 

[2]Imagine a friend of yours told you that she had worked hard to learn to love herself. What would you think?

 

(1) Good for her. She is growing and getting healthy.

 

(2) That sounds pretty good, but I hope that she avoids becoming self-centered and forget where she comes from.

 

(3) My friend has been listening to shrink-talk nonsense.

 

[3]Picture someone who loves himself or herself. What do you imagine that person will be like?

 

(1) Quietly confident.

 

(2) Bold and maybe a little brash, but fundamentally self-assured.

 

(3) Arrogant and disrespectful.

 

So, how did you do? 

 

Add up the scores (1, 2, or 3) on the three questions from this quiz and look below to consider how you feel about the idea of self-love.

Score 3–4: You probably already love yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin.

 

Score 5–6: You are on the path toward loving yourself, but you occasionally doubt whether loving yourself is healthy or “right.”

 

Score 7–9: Self-love is either a foreign concept that you have never considered, or you have thought about it and the thought makes you feel sick.

 

Whatever you scored, I hope the quiz made you think about self-love, because again, only a person who loves himself or herself first can give love freely to others. And if you feel loved and believe in yourself, you’ll be giving, gentle and kind. You’ll be calm, consistent and confident, too.

 

You’ll also realize there’s plenty of love to go around. And you’ll have the faith to see the glory in — and inspire — others.

Much love and many blessings,

Dad

Ben_michaelis_book

Guest Columnist Ben Michaelis: Just For You, A Quiz On Self-Love

Dr. Ben Michaelis lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and children, Juliet and Charlie, ages 5 and 2. His book, YOUR NEXT BIG THING: 10 Small Steps to Get

Moving and Get Happy was released last December. Currently in full-time private practice as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Michaelis specializes in blending play and creativity with mental health. He has served on the faculty of Lenox Hill Hospital and is currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. His writing appears regularly on The Huffington Post.com and Psychologytoday.com, among other publications. For more information about him, please visit http://www.drbenmichaelis.com, and follow him on Twitter @drbenmichaelis  

 
Dear Juliet and Charlie,

 

Because you’re both still quite young right now, what Valentine’s Day basically means to you is chocolate. Which, believe me, I respect. For me, and for many others, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to think about, and demonstrate, my love for those most important to me.

 

So here’s a letter you can read when you’re old enough to, and interested in reflecting on, this holiday.


The long and short of it all is this: to get the love you want, you have to love yourself first. Why, you ask?  What’s self-love got to do with it?

 

Let me answer your questions with this three-question quiz about self-love:

 

[1]When you read the words “Self-Love,” how do you feel?

 

(1) Fine.

 

(2) Uncomfortable. 

 

(3) Disgusted.

 

[2]Imagine a friend of yours told you that she had worked hard to learn to love herself. What would you think?

 

(1) Good for her. She is growing and getting healthy.

 

(2) That sounds pretty good, but I hope that she avoids becoming self-centered and forget where she comes from.

 

(3) My friend has been listening to shrink-talk nonsense.

 

[3]Picture someone who loves himself or herself. What do you imagine that person will be like?

 

(1) Quietly confident.

 

(2) Bold and maybe a little brash, but fundamentally self-assured.

 

(3) Arrogant and disrespectful.

 

So, how did you do? 

 

Add up the scores (1, 2, or 3) on the three questions from this quiz and look below to consider how you feel about the idea of self-love.

Score 3–4: You probably already love yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin.

 

Score 5–6: You are on the path toward loving yourself, but you occasionally doubt whether loving yourself is healthy or “right.”

 

Score 7–9: Self-love is either a foreign concept that you have never considered, or you have thought about it and the thought makes you feel sick.

 

Whatever you scored, I hope the quiz made you think about self-love, because again, only a person who loves himself or herself first can give love freely to others. And if you feel loved and believe in yourself, you’ll be giving, gentle and kind. You’ll be calm, consistent and confident, too.

 

You’ll also realize there’s plenty of love to go around. And you’ll have the faith to see the glory in — and inspire — others.

Much love and many blessings,

Dad

Guest Columnist Ben Michaelis: Just For You, A Quiz On Self-Love

Dr. Ben Michaelis lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and children, Juliet and Charlie, ages 5 and 2. His book, YOUR NEXT BIG THING: 10 Small Steps to Get

Moving and Get Happy was released last December. Currently in full-time private practice as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Michaelis specializes in blending play and creativity with mental health. He has served on the faculty of Lenox Hill Hospital and is currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.  His writing appears regularly on The Huffington Post.com and Psychologytoday.com, among other publications. For more information about him, please visit http://www.drbenmichaelis.com, and follow him on Twitter @drbenmichaelis  

 
Dear Juliet and Charlie,

 

Because you’re both still quite young right now, what Valentine’s Day basically means to you is chocolate. Which, believe me, I respect. For me, and for many others, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to think about, and demonstrate, my love for those most important to me.

 

So here’s a letter you can read when you’re old enough to, and interested in reflecting on, this holiday.


The long and short of it all is this: to get the love you want, you have to love yourself first. Why, you ask?  What’s self-love got to do with it?

 

Let me answer your questions with this three-question quiz about self-love:

 

[1]When you read the words “Self-Love,” how do you feel?

 

(1) Fine.

 

(2) Uncomfortable. 

 

(3) Disgusted.

 

[2]Imagine a friend of yours told you that she had worked hard to learn to love herself. What would you think?

 

(1) Good for her. She is growing and getting healthy.

 

(2) That sounds pretty good, but I hope that she avoids becoming self-centered and forget where she comes from.

 

(3) My friend has been listening to shrink-talk nonsense.

 

[3]Picture someone who loves himself or herself. What do you imagine that person will be like?

 

(1) Quietly confident.

 

(2) Bold and maybe a little brash, but fundamentally self-assured.

 

(3) Arrogant and disrespectful.

 

So, how did you do? 

 

Add up the scores (1, 2, or 3) on the three questions from this quiz and look below to consider how you feel about the idea of self-love.

Score 3–4: You probably already love yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin.

 

Score 5–6: You are on the path toward loving yourself, but you occasionally doubt whether loving yourself is healthy or “right.”

 

Score 7–9: Self-love is either a foreign concept that you have never considered, or you have thought about it and the thought makes you feel sick.

 

Whatever you scored, I hope the quiz made you think about self-love, because again, only a person who loves himself or herself first can give love freely to others. And if you feel loved and believe in yourself, you’ll be giving, gentle and kind. You’ll be calm, consistent and confident, too.

 

You’ll also realize there’s plenty of love to go around. And you’ll have the faith to see the glory in — and inspire — others.

Much love and many blessings,

Dad

Guest Columnist Lin Joyce: More Than 500 Letters Later, A Granddaughter Is Born (Part 2)

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Lin Joyce, a personal historian based in Washington, D.C., is wife to Bill and mom to Annie and Susie. She is head interviewer for Reel Tributes, a company that produces personal history documentaries that combine personal videos, pictures and music WWW.REELTRIBUTES.COM. Lin is also Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for the Association of Personal Historians. Three years ago she founded The Life Stories Program for Capital Caring, a hospice serving the Metropolitan Washington D.C. area, to train hospice patients to preserve family memories. She believes everyone has a story to tell, and loves playing a part in helping to tell those stories. 

Dear Annie,

As you well know, your dad and I love to travel. But I had no idea just how much traveling I’d be doing when I married your father 37 years ago. I have the U.S. federal government to thank for 18 moves in 21 years, 12 being international relocations.

I gave birth to you during our second overseas assignment in Amman, Jordan — a great memory, of course. You are already aware of some of the unusual details of your birth. For example, very few Americans citizens have a birth certificate written in Arabic that is signed by an official representative of King Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. But you do.

 

You were supposed to have been born in Bangkok, Thailand. That’s where we were living when the nurse at the American Embassy Medical Unit told us that we were going to become parents. But when the office in Washington DC called with travel orders, we always said, “Yes.” And so we were transferred to Amman when I was five months pregnant.

 

Because your dad had to leave right away, I decided to go stateside to visit family and then fly to Amman by myself. What a long trip that was for me! My belly had gotten uncomfortably big, my moo-moo styled dresses were getting tighter and my ankles swelled if I stood for too long.

Lin_joyce_pregnant_photo

Your dad met me at Amman’s airport and soon I was walking into our new home. The American Embassy provided us with a spacious home only ten minutes from the embassy. The house had three floors and we were to occupy only the top two floors.We had three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a washer and drier but no disposal or dishwasher. The floors were all marble and the walls were wallpapered or covered with dark wood paneling. The house came fully furnished with Drexel Heritage furniture. We had many lemon and blood orange trees growing in our backyard.

On the morning you were born your dad spilled his coffee all over the kitchen table. It was raining outside and because of the Arabic Summit that was going on in the city, security was very tight on the main streets of Amman.

Still, all we could think of was: today we would become parents.

Your birth was helped along with a pitocin drip. During the birthing process, my Lebanese-trained obstetrician told me to stop making so much noise. You were born at 5:00 p.m. on the afternoon of November 21, 1980 at the Al Khalidi Hospital in Amman, the only light-haired baby to be found in the nursery.


You developed an elevated bilirubin level, which scared us. It was necessary for us to leave you in the hospital for a few extra days, but soon that situation resolved itself.

We got to bring you home on Thanksgiving Day, 1980.That was a Thanksgiving I will never forget. Your dad and I were so tired. We found two Swanson turkey TV dinners in the freezer that I had purchased at the Embassy Commissary and that’s what we had for dinner. We were very thankful to be celebrating Thanksgiving at home together.

Love always,

Mom

Lin_joyce_annie_birth_certificate

Guest Columnist Lin Joyce: More Than 500 Letters Later, A Granddaughter Is Born

Lin_joyce_annie_photo

Lin Joyce, a personal historian based in Washington, D.C., is wife to Bill and mom to Annie and Susie. She is head interviewer for Reel Tributes, a company that produces personal history documentaries that combine personal videos, pictures and music WWW.REELTRIBUTES.COM. Lin is also Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for the Association of Personal Historians. Three years ago she founded The Life Stories Program for Capital Caring, a hospice serving the Metropolitan Washington D.C. area, to train hospice patients to preserve family memories. She believes everyone has a story to tell, and loves playing a part in helping to tell those stories.

Dear Annie,

For many years, as a result of my husband’s job with the Central Intelligence Agency, our family did a lot of traveling and relocating. We spent many years living in West Africa, Asia, the Middle East and in Europe. I once counted that we had moved eighteen times in twenty-one years.

Over the years I wrote letters to my maternal grandmother to whom I was very close. In my letters to her I described our daily adventures of living abroad, our unusual cultural experiences and the stories of giving birth to and raising our two daughters in foreign countries. My husband is now retired and we have put down our familial roots in Northern Virginia. 

In 2004 I visited my grandmother in her home in San Francisco. During this visit my grandmother handed me a large, beautifully wrapped gift box.  Upon opening the box, I saw all the letters that I had written to her. The letters were neatly tied up with different colors of satin ribbon – a bundle for each year of our travels. Over the next few days, I was delighted to read my letters again and to reflect on so many of the adventures I had experienced and shared on paper with my grandmother. What my grandmother had been unaware of until that time was that I had saved her letters, too. Eventually, I was to see that together our letters numbered over 500.

Fast-forward a few years…

You were expecting your first baby on December 27, 2007. As your pregnancy progressed, you became more and more uncomfortable and longed for the pregnancy to be over. I then remembered the letters that I had written to my grandmother 27 years earlier. I remembered writing in great detail about being pregnant with my first baby (you) — and remembered how I, too, suffered nausea, indigestion, swollen ankles and late-night awakenings from pains in my legs; and how I, too, longed for the waiting to be over. Maybe you would take comfort in reading that I had dealt with the same inconveniences.

I decided to share my letters with you, now saved in a large white binder, in the hopes that it would reflect my love, compassion and empathy for what you were going through. I presented the large stack of letters to you. Early the next day you called me on the telephone.The excitement in your voice was all I needed to hear. You had read all of my letters in one night.

You were thrilled to read about my pregnancy experiences and even more about what my life was like at the time of her birth. You said that she had no idea of what I went through – the experience of giving birth at the Al Khalidi Maternity Hospital in Amman, Jordan, not having family nearby to help me, and not having the comforts of Westernized medicine throughout my pregnancy, labor and delivery.

After reading my letters, you told me that she gained a new and deeper understanding of what my life had been like and how difficult it must have been for me. You said that it must have taken a lot of courage to go to Jordan not knowing how things would turn out or what things would be like.

This mother-to-daughter insight was all made possible because my grandmother had the foresight to save my letters. They are only pieces of paper but the thoughts, memories and stories reflected on them are priceless. 

Now my sweet daughter is the mother of three — a beautiful five-year-old daughter and active twin two-year-old boys. She is making her own memories and one day will have some amazing stories of her own to tell her kids.

P.S. – Please see part 2 tomorrow.