My challenge to you this summer:
Write a letter to your 18 year-old child. Seal it. Put it away in a safe place.
Yes, the child that is now 6, 7, 12 or 14. Picture that face. Those toes. That voice.
Now imagine the years have passed. Acton’s graduation ceremony and celebrations are over. A sweet stillness has crept in over the frenetic schedule of late. There are boxes packed by the door.
It is time to say good-bye to life as you have known it.
But there is one last gift you have saved for this moment. You pull out an envelope and place it in your child’s brave hands. This is your most important gift – the letter your wrote several years ago. These words have held true and will continue to speak the truth over time. They hold power now because they were written long before this dramatic scene of an 18 year old leaving home. They are not driven by emotion or haste. These words took time – probably months – for you to hone.
What is this letter?
Think of it as a simple recording of your private thoughts about who your child is – those unique talents and gifts you see each day; the heart and soul you’ve witnessed in action since that day of birth.
These words are the gift you have waited to give for the next big journey after high school. Yet it is really a letter for the days beyond that day – to be read again and again when the road gets lonely and self-doubt arises.
My thoughts as I begin to jot down ideas for my letters to Sam and Charlie:
What do I want them to know in their heart of hearts? What in them makes me most proud and will shine on the world? What will carry them through hard times? What is my dream for them? What is the life lesson I hope they treasure above all? What is their most precious gift? What do I admire the most about who they are?
The urgency for the task is real. This time will pass. Our children know it. Each day at Acton, they are working toward this day. They dream of how they will change the world. They work with seriousness on becoming strong-minded and strong-hearted in order to live a life of purpose and meaning. They will be so very ready. The road may seem long to them right now. It will be short for us.
Will you write the letter? Will I?