Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Just Between Us...My Mom, My Penpal
Last Christmas I was browsing the aisles of Paper Source and came across this journal, written by a mother-daughter pair and designed as a passive means of communication between pre-teen girls wading through the knee-high tides of womanhood, and their moms, who are often so far out to sea that they need a little help remembering how to get back to shore.
While I don't need help figuring out adolescence, I did squeal with excitement at the idea of surprising my mom with a penpal project. My friend Suzanne and I had done the same thing our freshman year of college, mailing a journal back and forth with entries about boys who were English Lit majors, boys who played guitar and sang in an a cappella group, boys who wanted to produce hip hop artists and general collegiate self-inflicted malaise. If only I knew where that thing ended up, I'm sure there are some real gems (and Maya Angelou quotes) inside.
The one thing my journal with Suzanne was missing were the fun prompts like "My first crush (and what I've learned since)" for the mother to the daughter's "What I need to know about crushes and dating".
Here are a few things I knew about my mom before I started our shared journal:
1. She grows oysters for fun.
2. She was a cheerleader in college.
3. When she married my father in the 70's, she opted to keep her maiden name, which was considered pretty radical at the time. She also has a Master's Degree and was a working mom. I imagine her doing all of this in shoulder pads and Julia Sugarbaker hair.
4. She's a pretty fierce tennis player (even after getting a front tooth knocked out in the 80's that, I should mention, was replaced. Yes, we're from the South but that doesn't mean my mom's going ruthless and toothless)
5. She's the only lefty in a family of 6 kids and two parents.
6. She's a great travel companion.
7. Kids gravitate to her.
Here are a few things I've learned about my mom from her journal entries.
1. My mom's guilty pleasure is Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
2. She took a year off from college to teach at a daycare.
3. (Written by my mom) Prompt: The funniest thing that has happened to me is..."it wasn't funny at the time. Actually I was horrified when it happened but I've since developed a sense of humor. Now I think I'm hilarious."
4. Her first crush was Mike Cavalero.
5. (Written by my mom) Prompt: Growing up I looked like..."so many different things - cutie pie to nerd. Just depended on the stage I was in...and whether or not my mother was cutting my hair."
6. She's actually decent at drawing. Exhibit A:
(The only thing confusing here is the "I Love Daddy" in the bottom left corner, an item my mom imagines to be in my purse. Note she changed it from backpack, since technically I'm supposed to be a middle schooler. Is that supposed to be the duckling, my husband or my dad? A little curious, but the detail on her flip phone is pretty impressive.)
I should've had my mom design my wedding dress.
Every few months, we send the journal back and forth with newly completed sections, which is left to the discretion of the journal holder. The journal is currently in my possession (hence being able to share the awesome noseless-princess-behind-a-curtain photo with you). I'm almost done with my entries and will be mailing it to my mom in the coming weeks.
I love the idea of having this journal to look back on for years to come. At a certain age, kids begin showing an interest in what their parents, grandparents and loved ones were like when they were younger. I can't wait to share these first-hand accounts of exactly that. I started the journal when the duckling was six months old, so I already have a tinge of nostalgia when I look back on some of my musings about being a new mom, my hopes for my son and my own reflections on being a mom. Add to this the amazing stories my mom has written about falling out of her own underwear, learning about responsibility and becoming a mom and you've got yourself some pretty entertaining literature. I can't wait until my own kids are old enough to repeat this project with them. Until then, I'll be brushing up on my princess drawing skills.
You can buy your own copy of the journal here.