Thursday, March 1, 2012

"If I Die" Letters to My Kids

Is This Morbid or Something Every Mom Should Do?

       I currently have a featured post on CafeMom.  This morning I edited the final drafts of ten wills, which was a pretty persistant reminder to myself that I need to write my own will.  Like, now.  Because you really never know what is going to happen or when and as much as I plan to be the great-grandma with the best stories and the huge garden when I'm really old, I have to face the fact that I could just as easily be taken in a car accident on the way home.

       So the need for a will is clear (heaven knows I harp on it enough with my clients).  But I also know that I don't want my will to be all that I leave behind.  The thought of my children growing up without me is deeply painful, and I know that if I can't be there for them in person, I want to leave behind as much as I can to remind them that I love them more than anything, that I'm always here for them even if only in spirit, and that to always strive to be the wonderful people I know they are.

       My first thought this morning, one I had had many times in the past, was to write them each letters - something they could keep and hold, my words that they could always keep with them.  I would start with just general letters, just in case the worst were to happen right away, and then I would write more letters to be given to them on special future occasions like 13th, 16th, 21st and 25th birthdays, graduations from high school and college, prom, getting engaged, wedding day, birth of a first child, etc.

       So I posted on CafeMom looking for some ideas and input (as I often do when I'm too rushed to write a "real" post for this-here blog), and wouldn't you know it, I got TONS of input.  And I got featured.  Which probably isn't really anything at all to be proud of, and yet I am...

       Some of the answers, though, gave me even better ideas than my original idea.  One person suggested doing some video recordings because grown son, who had lost his father many years before, complained of not being able to remember his father's voice.

      Another post - many of them, actually - suggested keeping a journal* of letters to the children to be given to them either at some future age, or in the sad even of my passing.  Through the journal, you can pass on love and advice and also include memories - sort of like a baby book carried forward.

       Yet another suggestion was to do the letters for various birthdays, but plan to give them to the child whether or not you die (that was sort of a Duh! *forehead smack* moment for me ;-)).  A similar suggestion was to write letters on each of your childrens' birthdays.

      A final suggestion I would like to mention (because I want to do it!) is to record yourself reading a beloved story (hello The Lorax and Oh, The Places You'll Go!!), so that you can read to your kids, grandkids, and beyond, even when you're not there.

       That is just the beginning of the discussion, but it has given me SO many wonderful ideas!  I know what I'll be doing this weekend!  Creating journals for Punky and Flintstone, into which I will also be putting DVDs of messages I want them to have and maybe a story or two!

      Lastly, I encourage you, if you decide to join in, to purchase an ethically produced, environmentally friendly journal, like these ones I'm thinking of getting for Punky and Flintstone from The Animal Rescue Site Store:

      What would you say in this kind of letter?  I'm trying to strike a balance between the really heartfelt "I'm always with you, be a good person" stuff and a little bit of humor (like Tina Fey's Mother's Prayer).

      What do you think?  What would you write?  What occassions would you write letters for?  I'm also thinking about doing letters for my parents, brother, and best friends, though in all likelihood I'll never get around to it.

      *I don't know why I didn't think of this, either.  MacGyver and I have had a journal we've passed back and forth to write things to each other since we were just dating.  Though now I wish I would have gotten it from The Animal Rescue Site.


MiMi said...

I write my kids letters every year on their birthday explaining what they are like and what their dad and I are if I die, or at least when they are older maybe they can see why we do some of the things we do.

Impulsive Addict said...

I love that you and Macgyver have a love journal. That's a cute idea.

Oh gosh. I wouldn't have the slightest clue what I would write but it's a great idea!

Katherine said...

I write letters to my boys on my blog. I try to write each month, but it ends up being less. My idea is that either when they get married, or graduate college, (or if I died), they will get a book of all the printed letters.

Diandra said...

I think I like this idea. I also liked the idea in "The timetraveler's wife" that the father prepared videos with useful knowledge for his daughter because he knew he would not be around.

Nadine Hightower said...

no I do not think it's morbid. I think that it's a good idea for the children to know you in a different way than just Mom. they need to know you as a person. A Marine. A lawyer. A lover. Think about that movie or book Bridges over Madison County, which ever you want but the gist was the mom had an affair once and the grown kids found out after her death. we only think of our parents as bossy or churchy not someone we think of having intimate moments or partied like a rockstar when they were young. I have a hard time thinking about my Granny being my age and being as wild as I am. I was raised by the woman... she wasn't. I would love for my girls to know about my blog after I'm long gone. To see a side of me that do not know. But I'm so mad at them right now that any letter I would write would just be full of mean and hateful things. So I blog about my life and memories that need to be told and maybe one day tell them about it.
And if I had a will, I wouldn't leave them anything of value. Everything goes to Roy. My girls do not want to be apart of my life now, leaving them my rings or whatever wouldn't mean a thing. And it's the same with him and his children. I think though I would give his son Roy's deer rifle. But not his cop guns. I think I would give those to someone still in the line of duty that would appreciate them.

I know. Odd.

Karen Peterson said...

This isn't something I've ever had to think about, but I do think it's a great idea. And if I had kids I would totally want to write letters.


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