Now, before you string me up as an over-achieving super mom (not that there's anything wrong with that), let me say that I can't take credit for this project. It was something that I decided to do after reading an article in Real Simple Magazine entitled "Inside the God Box".
In the article, author Mary Lou Quinian relates how her own mother began a tradition of placing petitions to God in an ordinary trinket box. Any concerns, pleas, requests for help, guidance or faith all went into the box, often times written on "any old piece of paper—the back of a receipt, a torn paper towel, or a while-you-were-out slip sufficed". The petition would be dated and inserted into the box. What began in the late 1980s with one box blossomed into 10 boxes bursting with notes by the the time Quinian's mother passed in 2006.
Quinian didn't realize how fully invested in the box her mother was, chalking it up to her mother's strong Catholic upbringing, until she discovered the boxes, brimming with nearly every concern and care she and her brother shared with her mother over the years. Reading Quinian's words about her mothers constant thought for the well being of her children, her husband, family, friends and even strangers plucked something inside of me. When I first read this article several years ago, I was probably trying to do my best to be the mother that my girls deserve. Parenting is a fluid experience; what works one day probably won't work again tomorrow. There are highs and lows and while you are in the thick of it, you wonder if you'll ever return to some semblance of normalcy. Someone once told me that with parenting, the days are long, but the years are fast. At the time, I scoffed it off as some ol' empty nester regret, but I now know how right that person was.
I want for my children to have wonderful life experiences that shape them into outstanding young woman and citizens. My greatest fear is that my children will look back on their childhoods and say, "My mom always said 'No'" or "We never really did anything outside of school, sports and Kumon." Sure, I want for our family to have adventures and make memories that spawn inside jokes and impromptu re-enactments. I also want for them to have good manners, well rounded educations, and all the bits and pieces that will serve them well in life. What I don't want is for the fun times, the love that I have for them, the pride that I have for them to get lost along the way.
Enter my version of the "God Box". I took the lead of Quinian's mother and just started writing love notes to the girls whenever I thought to do so. Whenever I would "catch them doing good" as the phrase goes, I noted it and put it in the box. Then life got in the way. I don't know where or when or how I fell off. I just did. My box sat in the closet for months, then years. It moved with us from Norfolk to Richmond. It moved from my closet to my office. From my office in plain view to my office cabinet. And then, I pulled it out and decided, I needed to write some notes. Should I bang off a few and post-date them? Should I write an apology note to each of them for not sticking with it, as I encourage them to do when facing a new venture? I pulled out a pad of patterned scrapping paper and some markers and got to work. I ended up reminding them individually of how much I love them. I wrote out my prayer for the health and well being. I wrote about my pride in their recent accomplishments. I wrote about how I've noticed that the days are long but the years are fast, especially when we're all fitted snugly in the rock-a-bye chair. I wrote and I wrote, maybe a dozen little notes in all in one day.
I capped my markers and flipped my pad closed, placing them all in my work-bag so that they are never far from hand. As for the box, I've left it out on my desk with the lid off. It's a reminder to fill it up with notes of the good things all around me, especially when the days seem long.