Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Letter to My Daughter

I edited this post October 1, 2016 to take out some details.

. . . . .

My husband and I make it a point to write letters to each of our kids during their birthdays. We want them to know how we love them so very much.

In the same manner, my kids also know that I expect a heartfelt card from them during my birthday. I don't really expect a gift, but I will super appreciate a well-written and meaningful note.

My oldest daughter just had her retreat a few weeks ago; and of course, a special letter for that occasion is also in order.

Each year, the juniors in J's school go through this spiritual retreat which focuses on discovering oneself and improving spirituality, which all leads to a better relationship with God, family and friends.

This girl was gone for a 3-day retreat, from which she came out more appreciative of her life and everyone in it. According to her, she's most grateful for the sacrifices I make for her. Awww, so sweet @whimsicalsushi. I'm posting this so I can hold you accountable for that statement. When you get upset with me in the future for being "strict" Imma show you this one. πŸ˜œπŸ˜œπŸ˜œ I do love you very much and I'm so appreciative of how you're so emotionally low-maintenance that you make parenting seem so easy. πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜

I won't be spilling out details about my daughter's retreat because they say it really is best to experience what it is all about first-hand.

I've never attended one, and the retreat details are guarded like a well-kept secret among those who previously joined it.  I've asked my friends who experienced , and they say it is LIFE-CHANGING and the memories of those 3 days are something that they treasure for several years after.

Instead, I will be sharing with you the letters that the family prepared for her.

How We Write Letters To Our Kids?

As I've said, writing letters to our kids is something that we do every year for their birthday. 

The birhtday celebrant in the family gets a handmade card from everyone each year. It's sort of like an unspoken ritual for us already. We all look forward to it!

My oldest daughter has a preference for hand-written letters, 
but di ko kinaya talaga. I don't think she'll be able to read my handwriting after one page. 
To make up for my typed letter, I designed it naman. I know my daughter is drawn to anything that is visually stimulating, so I made sure to to add in some graphic details. 

I just want to share with you all how I do it. 

I start with enumerating the positive qualities that I find praiseworthy in her, and made me especially proud to be her mom.

And maybe sandwich in a few areas where she needs to work on improving herself. Konting reminders, ganon. Pa-simpleng sermon na may halong lambing para lalo siyang ma-guilty, hahaha.

I also apologize for any mistakes and ask forgiveness whenever there's a need for it. But usually, it's just really to explain why I "hover." Oo na, I have issues about letting go of my kids. I need a constant reality check that I now have teenagers who want more freedom. I am slooowly getting there. Please pray for me.:)

I also try to put in a bible verse that I think would help her. I also have a bible verse for each of my kids, it's like a life verse that is exclusive to them. And I always bring it up when I write them their birthday card to sort of remind them about it yearly.

To sum it up, our letters highlight our kid's positive qualities, a reminder of their vast, unlimited potential because of who they are in Christ, our hopes for their future, our reassurance of our unconditional love and their importance in our life.

. . .

J shared with me that she was overwhelmed with the abundance of love that she felt as she was reading our letters. She said the heartfelt messages of love, encouragement and appreciation from family and her close friends made her tear up so much. 

Achi, you know where you got your creativity from na! 
The letters from MY SIDE of the family ALL came in the form of a collage or scrapbook, without me prompting them to. Hindi talaga namin pinag-usapan.

I asked my close friends to write a letter for her, too.

I'm not going to show my letter in its entirety, but here's one out of the five pages I wrote.

Before her retreat, she was telling me she's positive she wouldn't cry at any point. She doesn't have any problems. She's used to getting letters from me and her dad each year during her birthday. She simply doesn't see any opportunity to be emotional about anything.

How wrong she was! Ahahaha!

After her retreat, she shared with us, as her dad and I took her out to dinner, that she read her dad's letter first, and she was crying uncontrollably by the time she finished reading his 5-page letter. Aaawww! 

I asked permission from them both to share his letter:
Dearest J,
This letter won’t be the same if I don’t call you by my favorite nickname. Kidding aside, its as if it was just yesterday when I learned that mommy was pregnant. I was super excited to have a kid, but at the same time, I was nervous and afraid because I don’t know how to be a dad. I worry if I’m good enough to be one. All I’m sure of was that I prayed that God would give me a daughter as my firstborn. A little girl who is sweet, kind, loving and would take care of dad when I am old and gray. Indeed, God answered my prayer when He blessed me with you.

(I took out an one long paragraph filled with details of our family time. It's too private and outsiders cannot relate to the numerous inside jokes.)
Being the eldest child, you and I shared a lot of firsts. We had so much fun memories together like our first father and daughter date.... at Mcdo. You were easy to please then. Fries and a caramel sundae, and you're done. Our Dad and Me camping trip was a lot of fun and I learned so much about you. You made it enjoyable with your attitude. I remember that after enduring the heat and humidity while building our tent, it got rained on, and then the waterproof protection wasn't working anymore and rain-water flooded the inside of our tent, soaking everything inside. We were not able to borrow another tent until late afternoon. I really wanted to go home then out of frustration, but the 12 year old you kept me going by encouraging me and helping me. We ended up having a blast and eating a lot of grilled cheese dogs for dinner and homemade apple pie. I hope as you grow older (and catch up with my coolness), we would continue to make those fun family moments because more than all the riches in the world, even all my whisky bottles included, our time together is what I treasure the most.
The past 16 years you have blessed us to see flashes or glimpses of your brilliance and excellence, whether it be in academics, sports or the arts. I believe this is God's way of showing us what you can truly become. Don't lose heart or be burdened when mommy and I encourage you to do your best in everything. I believe the only way to be the best is to test something to its limits or push something to its threshold, whether it be a race car, a new computing software and this even happens in nature. A diamond for instance is just a common, inexpensive plain carbon before tons of pressure transform it into a beautiful and expensive diamond.

Rest assured, someday you will realize all the blessings/benefits of being the best at whatever you do. More importantly though, doing our best is a way to honor and worship God. He is the principal author of our lives and the source of all our blessing and talents.
As you grow up and at any given season of your life and you encounter an obstacle or a stumbling block, you can recall all your experiences and confidently know that there is nothing that you cannot do nor anything that you cannot overcome because you have been blessed with your talents, wisdom and gifts. You trained yourself to be the best and in your heart you know that if you honor God, God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose ( Rom 8;28).

As my eldest, I have seen you grow up to be a fine lady, a funny one most of the time, our source of laughter at home because you don't take things too seriously... sometimes even yourself! hahaha.
Seriously, I see that you have a very good and kind heart. You are a very tolerant person, and you often remind dad to let things pass, to forgive, to "chillax" and you always seem to find a way to make me laugh when I'm upset. You also are very forgiving to those who have hurt you.  You're always cool about those situations even when mom and dad feel upset with the people who we feel have wronged you. That is a very good trait to have, to remain cool headed, calm and relaxed; but most of all, it is trusting in God, because He taught us to forgive and just wait for His vengeance.

As there is nothing perfect in this world, so are you. I do see some of my flaws in you too. I know I am strict with you and I do discipline you when you cannot discipline yourself. I also know that you sometimes feel that I am an over bearing, helicopter, lawnmower kind of papabear. In the future, I know that you will understand me and in time, see the wisdom of my actions. I just don't want to see you fall in the same pitfalls or traps that I did. I don't want you to look back and regret some actions or inactions that would limit what you can become or limit what you deserve. I do intervene and stop you in the tracks from getting into situations that I feel later on in life would be a thief to your joy and happiness. There are times that  I know you feel like a bird trapped in a cage or a bird with clipped wings; but trust me, dad is just preparing you, training you so you will soar like an eagle later on.
You know dad's heart, I want all of you to be always happy. If I could do and give you guys everything to achieve that, I would. But I am not capable because I am not God. Only God can be the ultimate and complete source of our joy and happiness, that is why I encourage you and your siblings to intimately know God, His character and His promises. That is why in my limited way, I do my best to teach you in the way that you should go that even when you grow old you will not depart from that path, so you will always be like the wise man who built his house on the rock. Rain, wind and floods may come but your house will always remain standing. There is nothing that I yearn more in my lifetime than to see you joyful and happy.

I love you, my God-answered prayer. To a lifetime more wonderful memories & experiences, Cheers!

Excuse me as I get a tissue. Even I cried while reading C's letter!


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