Monday, November 26, 2007

Words of Love


Words fail us when we need them the most, but they are also our salvation. We pass ideas, stories, and memories from one soul to another. We connect. We communicate. We fight. We solve. All is possible with words. We say I love you and even though we don't really understand the concept of love ourselves, we use the word "love" and it is understood.

We love our children most fiercely. Those innocent, new beings we guard and protect. Those that we cherish, feeling their pain as our own. We love them with an infinite, uncondional fire.

I bought a journal to fill with words for my daughter. I wanted to give her something special for her eighteenth birthday/graduation/moving on to live separate from me in college gift. It is the highest gift I could think of--words.

I have always wanted to fill a journal for her with bits of advice, poems, glimpses of what she means to me, but I have never been able to do it, until now--eight weeks before I will place it in her hands. I sat down this weekend and filled twenty pages of things I want her to remember, to read, to take--or not take--but at have.

In my twenties and thirties, life was spent mostly trying to hold my head above water, above the chaos that I can look back on now and see what could have been avoided, where I could have swam to shore. I don't often look back, only when I wonder things like "why haven't I started this journal sooner?" I now finally find myself shrugging off the struggle, catching glimpses of peace and truths that have calmed the ocean around me and within me.

I finally found the words.

To my dearest daughter:

This journal is my gift to you in hopes that it will be there when I cannot, in hopes it will bring you greater understanding of what it means to be a mother, to be your mother, to be a woman, to discover yourself and to discover most of all that you are never lost. You are right where you are supposed to be. I'm not sure what this will become. Advice when you are ready to hear it, inspiration when you find your wings, laughter and tears, unconditional love when you wonder if you are worthy of it. It will not be so you avoid mistakes, but so you know that nothing is a mistake. Everything is just a teacher and love is the greatest teacher of all.

This is what I'll be working on for a little while. There are plenty of pages to fill, so any words you are moved to share are welcomed!


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful gift! Words are creation in so many ways...and how appropriate that you're giving them to your daughter as not only guidance, but perhaps a roadmap for her own journey through life.

One of the things I learned while living on the streets as a younger man: Humans are not born to do bad things. We are not born with evil intent, or maliciousness, or hate. These are behaviors we learn. We are born from love, and made of love. No matter what, no matter how hard it might sometimes be, always hold a place in your heart for love. It is the saving grace for us all.

Shannon said...

Beautiful lesson, Christian and so true! Thank you for adding your own words of love. :-)

bella said...

Oh Shannon, this made me weepy.
I feel the same about words, as you well know.
And I write Leo letters all the time, most of them only inside my head.
That you give your daughter not just the gift of this journal but of the freedom to make mistakes that are not really mistakes is what makes you a hero of a mom to me.

Shawn said...

I can't think of a higher gift either. It's perfect.

I recall giving my brother a journal when he entered middle school. I was so worried about him that I wanted him to know that I was there for him. I gave him tips and advice, some of my favorite quotes about success and happiness, too. I wonder if he still has that darn thing ... : )

I doubt you will have trouble filling those pages. Nope, no trouble at all.

Gary said...

Exceptional idea, as is the person behind it.

Words to share: duh. I wish I had some. I think this one of those moments you mention when they fail us.

Instead of my own, I'd offer a little passage that has gotten me through the hard times of time, as well as that agonizing pressure we put on ourselves of "I'm behind, I'm behind! I should have done this by now, or I should have done that by now. I should have made it BY NOW!"

That damnable "by now!" Anyway, it's a passage from Joshua, in which Caleb declares his intentions (I condense it for my own use):

Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart...
And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.
As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.

Emphasis mine.

It's weird how this theme keeps coming up with me lately, and I'm reading a wonderful little book entitled "anonymous" by Alicia Britt Chole, I think her name is. Good stuff, about the seasons in our life that seem hidden and unproductive. Though Christian in bent, I'd highly recommend it to anyone (and I don't write that w/ any apologies about my own beliefs, but I know how some are. I've always recommended the Koran, too).

Anyway, that one and:

Though fortune had fled her spoiled and favorite childe, he stood beneath the ills upon him piled (from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage).

Those two quotes are two I've been returning to for strength for years. It's never too late, and we're never behind: want to have a baby at 48? Have a baby. Want to become a rocket scientist at 70? Become a rocket scientist. Our dreams may not come as quickly as so-and-so's, but that doesn't mean we're behind on them, either.

I hate getting caught up in that, and it's one of my weakest points. We tend to rush things, then, instead of letting them happen naturally, thereby causing ourselves the greater headache, and not often taking a step closer to what we have in mind. As you know, I have two failed marriages in as few years, as a result of that mentality, to my continued chagrin at the retelling. Rush, rush, rush... I wanted love by now. I wanted money by now. I wanted a career or an education or kids by now. How hateful is that?!

There is no schedule to achieving our dreams. Enjoy the moment while you're in it, even if it doesn't seem like things are shaping up as you expect/demand them to. That'd be my words, I guess.

Shannon said...

Bella & Shawn, I hope both of you will make your daily blogging into a book someday for your children. There is so much wisdom, so much love there--it would be a shame for them not to have that when they are old enough to understand it.
In fact, I have copy/pasted your words many times to keep for inspiration myself (along with Karen's) and am stealing, ahem, I mean borrowing them in some fashion or another as part of what I give to her.

Shannon said...

I have never known words to fail you, Gary & you don't disappoint here. :-) Thanks for sharing, I think that shall go in the "you only fail when you stop trying" section.
Oh, and I don't think it's weird when certain themes reoccur, these are the threads that always come with an important lesson for me.

Anonymous said...


Tia Nevitt said...

What a lovely gift. Great idea; she's lucky to have such a thoughtful mom.

Shannon said...

Thanks, Tia. In reality, she'll probably be upset it's not something more along the lines of a mall gift

Gary said...

Not when she's older, though!

Sorry mine was so long, by the way... *cringes*

Mama Zen said...

Such a beautiful idea! It made me weepy, as well.

Moanna said...

My first visit to your blog. Will have to return when I have more time to browse.

It's such a beautiful gift you're giving your daughter. The only suggestion I might make is every once in a while insert a recipe. I've always enjoyed having my mom's recipes because, like music, they bring memories to mind.

And I'm thinking about what Gary said, "It's never too late and we're never behind." Hmmmm.