Kathleen Holroyd is a self-described smother-mother, but is slowly working to let go a little more each day. Her favorite bible verse to help her along that journey is Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God. She has been married to her doting firefighter for close to 12 years and is so thankful for his patience and ability to laugh through the day with her. She is mother to Julia, nearly 11 years old and Kevin, age 8. Recently she started an Adventure Group with some girlfriends in an attempt to let go of some of her anxieties and fears and she writes about it at http://thehypophobicbadgirls.blogspot.com .
Letters to Julia
Everything I have learned about being a faithful, loving mother comes from my parents. I have a mother and father who undoubtedly love me beyond measure. I was not always the easiest daughter to parent, but it never showed. They loved Jesus first and that was evident in their devotion to one another and their three daughters. I learned through them that there is no difference between quality and quantity when mothering. You need both. I learned that in order to understand your daughter you will need to spend lots of time with her and the time needs to be well spent. I also know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was genetically engineered to be completely and utterly a cheesy parent. My dad would turn cartwheels in the mall while my friends and I giggled and rolled our eyes behind him. He would send the Army troops he commanded through the house to sing cadence to wake me up. And my mom….well, my mom loved ABBA. I have found that my fondest memories of my parents are moments that at the time may have seemed completely embarrassing, but as I look back I realize I was being loved in the best way possible: through laughter. I have spent these last 11 years mothering my Julia the exact same way. When other moms casually pickup their kids for the last day of school I am the obnoxious mommy that has decorated her car and screaming for them at carpool and most likely there is an ABBA song blaring from the stereo. Raising giving, beautiful daughters is hard work, so why not do it laughing? And sometimes you just have to get creative….
A couple of years ago I began writing letters back and forth with my daughter, Julia. I knew we were approaching what could be the years of a communication shutdown. I noticed her love of journaling and thought it was a fun way to see the world through her eyes. I handed my Julia a folder with blank paper and one letter from me. I asked that she read my letter and respond whenever she felt like it. (I have also learned that time constraints usually don’t work with girls. We like to take our time, don’t we?) I began the letters by asking easy questions. “What is your favorite color?” “What has been your favorite vacation?” But, as we continued, we started writing about more meaningful topics….fears, joys, disappointments, tribulations. I would hear her voice in the letters and knew I was receiving such a beautiful gift. Soon our letters turned into evening conversations. When I would tuck her in at night she wanted to hear more. We began having these beautiful and open conversations. I hold so many of her secrets and I feel so honored. We still write our letters and I find myself thumbing through them when I feel like life is slipping through my fingers. I am always reminded of the joy my daughter brings to my life.
Here is an early letter and as you will notice nicknames are also kind of a big deal in our family.
I love you, Mom. Do you like me even when I am grumpy? What do you like most about Kevin? I love his personality. He is so funny. My brother is the smartest kid I know! We have a lot in common.
I love you so much all the time….Even when you are grumpy. You are such a special girl. You are the best daughter EVER! I like how Kevin can make a boring day fun! He is a really neat kid. If a genie granted you 3 wishes what would yours be?
So, I will leave you with what runs through my mind everyday as I help to raise our Julia. “The feeling that I’m losing her forever and without really entering her world. I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter, that funny little girl. Slipping through my fingers all the time I try to capture every minute, the feeling in it. Slipping through my fingers all the time.”
Yes, those are ABBA lyrics. And if that is not enough hokie parenting advice for you this morning I am also including the scene from the Mamma Mia with above mentioned song. Enjoy and take a moment to embarrass your daughter today. She may write about it in a letter to you one day….not as her most embarrassing memory of you, but as her most cherished.
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