Encourage a Mother, Change the World

BlogHer Original Post

Danny (not his real name, and you'll understand why in a minute) is a husband and father who wanted to do something special for his wife this Christmas.  They were both fed up with the materialistic emptiness the holidays often brought: "typical American Christmas—gizmos, gadgets, whatnots, and an oversized helping of turkey," as he calls it.

This was spurred, in part, by a trip to Africa just after Christmas of 2007.  When he saw the great need there, he was struck by the emptiness of American "gizmos and gadgets", and he knew he had to do something better with his money this Christmas. 

He and his wife agreed that they would spend no money on each other this year, instead sending as much as they could to the humanitarian efforts underway in the village Danny visited.  In place of material gifts to each other, they would make gifts for each other, gifts that didn't cost money--only effort and creativity.

Danny hatched a brilliant idea. 

His wife is the mother of small children, a season of life often fraught with discouragement and exhaustion.  He began asking some mothers he knew in real life to submit letters of encouragement to her, sharing their best bits of motherhood wisdom, and what they learned themselves.  He planned to collect the letters to give to her Christmas morning.

Danny's idea was well-received by friends, but he began to realize his "mother network" was fairly small.  He wanted to broaden the scope of his idea and find a way for more women to become involved.

The Mother Letter Project was born.  And suddenly, the whole thing has grown beyond encouraging just one mom.

The Mother Letter Project is a simple blog that tells this family's story, and it invites women--strangers, friends, from all walks of life--to write a letter to his wife, encouraging her in her mothering journey.  He'll compile all the letters, and he'll present them to her Christmas morning.  The full details about the project are hereHe has revealed as much information as he can without giving away his identity.  His wife is a participant in the mom-blogosphere, and he doesn't want to ruin the surprise for her.  In a delicious twist, it's entirely possible she is reading this very article, with no idea of the lovely gift waiting for her!

This project tugged at my heart the first moment I read of it.  I can't decide which part of the story is more endearing:  a husband going to such efforts to encourage his wife?  A family committed to changing the life of an African village?  A treasure trove of wisdom for mothers, all in one place?  The whole thing is compelling. 

As the scope of the project has grown, the goal has grown beyond encouraging this one young mother.  Danny is offering any participant the chance to receive an e-mail version of the entire project, after the holidays (details here).

As word is getting out, bloggers are sending in their letters, and many are posting copies at their own blogs.  The Witty Conversations of Wendy writes in her letter:

There were circumstances and actions taken that summer that found me 20 years old, unmarried, and pregnant. I was scared, mad, unsure, and every other emotion in the book. But I knew at that moment, that my life was never going to be the same. It wasn't about me anymore. God had different plans for me. My daughter will be 10 years old this April and I, without a doubt, believe that she was my angel sent from Heaven to save me. She is my pride and joy and the light of my life.

Christy of Keeping Up With the Brockmans writes:

I think back to my outlook on life before I had children, and I have to laugh. I remember looking at other people’s children and saying to myself, “My children will NEVER act that way.” Motherhood is a wonderful journey of self-discovery. Suddenly responsible for the future of another’s soul, we must look deep into our own values and beliefs. We as mothers are very different, but we all share a common bond. The fight is not against one another.

Rebecca of Ethiopia, Here We Come! writes a simple but heartfelt letter with a twist: she addresses it to the birth mother of the Ethiopian baby she and her husband will soon be adding to their family:

You are not my mother. However, you are one of the most important mothers I know of. I regret that I will never really know you. I will know a big piece of you though. I will know you through our son. Through the son you have chosen to give life. Through this son, you have given us life.

If you'd like to participate in Danny's Mother Letter Project, you can read the full instructions here.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a letter to write.

Shannon Lowe is a BlogHer contributing editor (Mommy/Family). She also blogs at Rocks In My Dryer and The Parenting Post.


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