Tag Archives: new perspective

Dear Mrs. Gray,

This is a letter of a different kind, an actual letter to an actual mother. It’s a letter to aspire to receive some day…remember this one the next time you’re teaching your children how to share and show compassion:

Dear Mrs. Gray,

You don’t know me, but I wanted to write you a letter.

My family and I are from Southern California, but we were visiting Utah last week for Thanksgiving. Last Sunday night we were trying to drive from Salt Lake to Park City, where we were staying with friends. A snow storm had blown in and the highway had several inches of snow by the time we made our way up the hill to Park City. The snow plows had not yet made their way to our stretch of highway and quickly we realized we were in trouble. Our California tires were no match for the snow and of course we didn’t have chains. We were following in the tire tracks of a big semi for a while, and so we were making progress up Parley’s Summit, but then our semi got stuck and we quickly came to a stop. Once stopped we couldn’t get the car moving again. There were cars all around us who were also getting stuck. If you didn’t have four wheel drive or some really good snow tires, you were out of luck. We thought we would have to wait a few hours until the snow plows came through and then have someone tow us into the plowed path. It was getting late, and our kids were tired and ready for bed.

You might wonder why I am telling you this story, but at this point your son Ben came to our rescue. He was driving behind us in a red pick up truck and when my husband got out to see how badly we were stuck, he asked if we needed help. Your son tried to give our bumper a push but we just got stuck again, the tires spinning and spinning. He could have just driven around us and been on his way like the hundreds of other cars, but your son pulled his truck in front of ours and grabbed a strap out of the back and tied our front bumber to the back of his truck. And then he pulled us ever so slowly up to the summit. Once we got to the top, he untied the strap (we were worried about braking on our way downhill and didn’t want to slide into his truck). But then he offered to follow us all the way down the hill to our exit in Park City, to make sure we didn’t get stuck again.

And so I wanted to write and tell you about your son, and the kindness he showed my family. I’m guessing, in typical teenage fashion, that he didn’t tell you what had happened that night. I’m betting he just came home and mentioned the storm in passing on his way to the fridge to grab a snack.

But I wanted to make sure you knew, and to thank you for raising the type of boy who would stop to help a stranger, even when it delayed his drive home by an hour or so on a dark and snowy night. My family and I are so grateful.

Brooke Reynolds and family
. . .
Brooke is a mother of two, book designer, amateur sew-er, and lover of flip-flops. A former senior art director at Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Kids, she writes at Inchmark, where this post first appeared.

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

Katrina Kenison is the author of Mitten Strings for God and The Gift of an Ordinary Day. She blogs at Ordinary Day Journal. (Thanks to Gabi for passing along this great clip.)

From your grown child, looking back…

This entry isn’t really a letter but is actually a poem by the wonderful Billy Collins. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

~Billy Collins, from his collection The Trouble with Poetry

To Three Future Parents

Dear McKay, Chase, and Hannah,

As I write this, I have only been a parent for ten years, one day, and about nine hours. I hope you will forgive my imperfections thus far. I am very inexperienced, after all. But you three little beans have taught me a lot–about love, patience, anger, frustration, and joy. I would not trade my life with you for anything.

Looking back on those early parenting days, one thing I learned the hard way is that letting other people hold your baby is not necessarily a bad thing. I was so selfish. I can remember actually feeling annoyed when Grandma came to visit and all she wanted to do was hold the new baby–her first grandson. I know. I resented it a little bit, and have always regretted that, as I came to learn with subsequent babies that sharing is all right. I’m a bit of a selfish creature (shocking, yes) and I wanted to spend every second with my new baby. I felt cheated out of precious minutes of staring at his face when others got to do it. I did get better about that after a few months, but in my mind it was always a little too late. Please share your babies. Especially with me. Someday I will be the grandma.

Another thing you have taught me is to look at life from another view. Everything looks interesting to a small child–the bug on the sidewalk, the rock on the shore, the huge and endless sky. Sometimes, being so much bigger and taller than you, all I can see is where we need to get to. I’m in a hurry and I can see the place we need to be, but you always slow me down because you’re noticing something miraculous. I hope you never stop looking at life’s little miracles. Life is not about the destination; it’s about the journey. I thank God for your slow footsteps that forced me to stop and smell the flowers when I might have rushed by to get someplace unimportant and mundane like Target or the post office.

Lastly, you have taught me what it is to love unconditionally. Where else could someone nag you daily to hang up your backpack, put your shoes away, finish your homework, eat your dinner, stop being silly, sit down on your chair, stop punching your brother, go take a shower, brush your teeth, pick up your toys, and still get a hug every night? I nag, and I nag, and still you reach for me with your arms outstretched, waiting for a kiss and a hug before you climb into bed. If that’s not real love, I don’t know what is.




Christie, the mother of three children, lives in Missouri. She writes at Sties Thoughts.