What will life look like in 20 years? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I highly suspect that these facts will be true:
- I’ll find my current wardrobe and hairstyle laughable.
- Phones and computers will be able to perform functions beyond comprehension.
- My role as a mom will look very different than it does now.
In two decades, my now six year old son and 1 1/2 year old daughter will be adults. They’ll have separate lives with their own career ambitions, political leanings and friend groups. What would I say to my kids if I could send a message 20 years into the future?
It turns out that a simple time capsule project would help me find the words.
The time capsule tradition
My family’s time capsule tradition began five years ago on my son’s first birthday. He received a decorated box from his grandparents filled with pictures, factoids and keepsakes from his first year. Our instructions were to fill the box with our own mementos and then seal it until my son’s 21st birthday. We packed the box with typical time capsule items – baby clothes, newspaper ads, a postage stamp, a grocery receipt, etc. But the most precious items in the box were the letters to my son from me, my husband and both sets of grandparents.
Fast forward four years, and the task of writing a time capsule letter was once again before me. This time visions of my grown daughter danced in my mind as I contemplated what words to send into the future. The recipient of the message was different, but the emotion of writing to the 21-year-old version of my baby felt the same.
Questions for the future
In these days of diaper changes and nap time negotiations, it’s surreal to consider my daughter as an adult. So much will happen between now and when the time capsule is opened. It’s thrilling to consider the possibilities, but if I’m completely honest, it’s also overwhelming to ponder what the future may have in store.
What kind of person will my daughter be? At one, she has a strong personality and can captivate others with her charm. Will she remain my spirited child or will this passion manifest itself in different ways? What will delight her, annoy her, stir her soul? And I can’t help but wonder what kind of relationship she and I will have. Will we be close? What will we talk about together?
My daughter won’t be the only one to change over the next 20 years. I, too, will be a different person when she opens the time capsule. What lessons, hardships and joys will I experience between now and then? How will I perceive the current version of myself preserved in the letter? Perhaps I’ll feel longing for simpler days, embarrassment at my naivety or appreciation for the wisdom time has gifted me. More than anything, I hope my future self feels an outpouring of love for the past and present versions of herself.
Shrink wrapping my heart
My letter to my daughter is a snapshot of my love as it exists today. Within it, I capture my fondness for her personality, marveling at this precocious one year-old who loves books, dances to phone ringtones, steals her brother’s toys and keenly observes everything around her. Contemplating the woman she will become, I share the anticipation of watching her grow and seeing her personality unfold before me over the years. I conclude with nuggets of wisdom that I wish I would have learned earlier in life and that I hope she’ll take to heart.
This letter is my way of shrink wrapping my heart and preserving it for my daughter to unwrap in 20 years. My hope is that she unwraps it carefully and treasures it as a testament of my past, present and future love for her.
So tell me. What would your letter say to your baby, 20 years from now?