You never know when a piece of wisdom or advice can change your life. I was having lunch with a business associate and commiserating a bit about my daughter, who was 10 at the time. We had seemingly entered an era I had been hoping to avoid, yet one I was all too familiar with. My daughter hated me. Nothing I said and nothing I did seemed to be right. I was suddenly very “uncool” and I felt as though the shift had happened almost overnight. The days of running and throwing her arms around me and shouting “MOMMY!!” when I walked in the door seemed but a distant memory. And the worst part was, I knew it was only going to get worse.
So on this day, I had the great fortune of having lunch with a fellow mom and business associate and she told me the story of how she bridged communication with her daughter by sharing a journal. She shared it enabled them to communicate even during the most difficult times. I decided to give it a shot.
For her 11th birthday, I gave my daughter a little pink journal. Pink was chosen because it was her favorite color at the time. Here was my first entry:
Wow! It is hard for me to believe you are 11 years old! It seems like just yesterday, I was holding you in my arms for the very first time. I still remember the first time I got to hold you and I was blown away by how absolutely perfect you were. I have watched you grow into the incredible young lady you are today and I cannot tell you enough how proud I am of you. You are smart, generous, funny, and creative. I love you so much and admire your strength and wisdom at a young age.
I know our lives have had some twists and turns, but I am excited for the wonderful life we have and excited for the many wonderful experiences you will have in the years ahead as you grow and mature into an adult.
As your mother, my job is to help you grow and make good decisions, learn from mistakes, and teach you in such a way that allows you to become the person you want to be. I know it is not going to be easy, but I want you to know I will always love you no matter what. You and your brother are the most important people in the world to me.
I purchased this special journal for us to write to one another from time to time, so we will always be able to communicate exactly how we feel, even when we cannot find the words to say. My only hope is we will always be able to continue to communicate and always be able to tell each other exactly how we feel.
You are smart, beautiful, and kind. Although you are growing up very quickly, you will always be my special baby girl. Happy Birthday! Love, Mom”
I can honestly say this little pink book has changed our lives. I have been amazed at how much she has been willing to open up and share how she is feeling and the challenges she faces through this journal. It has also given me the opportunity to take time in writing to ensure I am saying all the things I want her to hear and know and am sharing my knowledge as a mother with true intention. We don’t write every day and sometimes a month goes by and we don’t write at all. We simply write to each other when we are inspired or when we have something to get off our chests. We then leave the book somewhere we know the other will find it.
As mothers, it is so critical to recognize we are the most powerful mentors in the lives of our children. They are always watching and paying attention to our actions and our words. As parents, it is our one true opportunity to create a lasting legacy.
I credit this journaling with enabling us to keep the lines of communication open. We are closer today than ever and I cannot help but think the little pink book has a lot to do with that.
About the author:
With roughly 21 years in nonprofit work, Alison Martin-Books has a passion for doing work that makes a difference in the lives of others. After serving as Executive Director at two different national nonprofit organizations, her commitment to her passion for developing female talent led her launch Mentoring Women’s Network and The Mentoring Women’s Network Foundation. In her role, Martin-Books acts as a liaison to a national committee responsible for the leadership development content for the organization and consults with corporations on the development and strategy aligned with initiatives for emerging female leaders.
She is also the author of the book, “Landing on My Feet: Learning to Lead Through Mentoring” and speaks regularly on behalf of the organization.