Years ago, as I was standing in the scrapbook aisle at Hobby Lobby and looking for decorative paper, I overheard a little girl make the most precious comment. About ten years old, she thumbed through the papers in front of her, while her mother looked through the racks above her head. Occasionally, her mom would pull a new sheet out and add it to her collection. It was obvious she knew exactly what she wanted. The little girl, however, kept drawing her attention to the ones she thought her mother should choose. “Because, after all, mother,” she said, “we have to agree.”
I felt so privileged to have a glimpse into this sweet little girl’s heart. Apparently unaware of my presence, she was trying to show her mother what she cared about, and as if that wasn’t enough, she also wanted to be in agreement! Her profound remark reminded me of the longing that all daughters have to be heard, accepted, and loved.
I wonder how that mother and daughter are doing today? I wonder if she even heard her daughter?
Around that same time, I was working on the Christmas edition of The Girlhood Home Companion which focused on author Louisa May Alcott and her autobiographical novel, Little Women. As I read through her journal, I was both surprised and delighted to learn of the intimate relationship she shared with her mother. During Louisa’s formative years, they wrote frequently to one another in the pages of Louisa’s journal.
I have written about the importance of journaling together with your children in my book, Every Day is a Gift, but I had no idea this practice was utilized in centuries past. Today, we call this practice interactive or shared journaling. In the olden days, they just called it writing a note (somewhat takes the pressure off, doesn’t it?).
In the book, Louisa May Alcott Her Life, Letters, and Journals, editor Ednah D. Chenev writes, ” . . . The mother had the habit of writing little notes to the children when she wished to call their attention to any fault or peculiarity. Louisa preserved many of them.
“I found this note from dear mother in my journal: ‘My dearest Louy, I often peep into your diary, hoping to see some record of more happy days. “Hope, and keep busy,” dear daughter, and in all perplexity or trouble come freely to your Mother.’ ”
“Dear Mother, You shall see more happy days, and I will come to you with my worries, for you are the best woman in the world.” -L. M. A.
Abigail corresponded frequently with Louisa, and from what we read in her journals, “Marmee’s” entries were encouraging, timely, and peppered with the sage advice of a mother who tenderly loved her daughter and knew the effect her written words would have long after she was gone. And as if she was the same little girl standing next to her mama in the scrapbook aisle, it is precious to see how Louisa cared for her mother’s heart and wanted to be in agreement as well.
Throughout the pages, of her journal, Abigail assured Louisa that she was never too busy to listen, and she frequently invited her to write back to make sure that their hearts were connected. In short little entries that took only a minute to two to pen, Louisa’s was nourished and guided again, and she was ready to tackle the next thing life brought her way.
Today, journal and letter writing are somewhat a lost art form. Social media has robbed mothers and daughters of an intimacy that can only be experienced from writing to one another. Let’s purpose this coming year to touch the ones we hold dear, to hear and be heard, one pen stroke at a time.
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