The best birthday gift for your kids (& yourself)

When I was a very new mom, a friend of mine, who was older and wiser with a few kids of her own, told me about birthday letters. Each year on each child’s birthday, she would write a letter to him or her, not to be given that day but many years down the road. Someone wise had suggested she write birthday letters when she became a mom, and then she shared that advice with me too.

My first thought was naïve. Just one letter a year? I can do better than that. But she was right. Life is busy, and it’s hard to make time for sentimental things. By writing one meaningful letter a year, I have now amassed 32 letters to my children that I treasure now, and I’m hoping they’ll treasure later.

In these letters, I detail their personality traits. I write about ways they’ve changed. I share sweet memories in detail (and some funny ones too), and I spell out my wishes and dreams for their future. I feel so much love when I’m writing that it’s hard not to cry. I always work on them at night when there are no distractions and I can write with intention.

We celebrated the last birthday in 2018 last week. My middle son turned 10, and the past decade has breezed by like a fast-flying cloud. As the years pass, I forget more and more of the subtleties of my children as babies and toddlers. I lose touch with their nuances and intricacies, the curl in their hair when it first comes in and the gap in front when first teeth are cut. I feel more and more acutely that I won’t have them forever, and it hurts.

But I’ll always have the letters, and when I can’t have my kids with me someday, at least the memories will remain. •

P.S. I also do this with my kids’ teachers each year. Do you do this too?

4 thoughts

  1. I love this. And truly if it weren’t for cameras, there are so many moments and entire phases I would forget about my little ones (the other day, I was nursing my baby, and realized I have no recollection of nursing one of my older children even though I nursed him for nearly two years….made me so sad, but also grateful I also have a few photos to jog my memory.) I’m going to supplement my photos with birthday letters to better memorialize these happy but chaotic years that seem to ghost away if I’m not proactive in capturing them.


    1. I am also so grateful for photos and for digital cameras where we can capture anything we want without having to worry about film in the camera. It really does help keep the memories fresh. Thanks for your comment!


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