The last two years when I received the draft of my parents' Christmas letter, I read all the amazing accomplishments listed for my siblings and then got to my single sentence and couldn't help but feel like it was all wrong. I mean, it was accurate and succinct, as was necessary when trying to cram in details of a large, growing family in a single page. Besides, there really just are no grand awards for the things a mother does all day. But the simple and short sentence kind of made the impression that being a mom was uncomplicated, dull, and unimportant.
"Sherrie is rising to the challenge of raising three wonderful children ages four and younger." (Last year it said "ages three and younger.")
The first year I just let it go, accepting the unfairness of worldly standards. But by the second year of having the exact same sentence, implicating no progression or growth in any way, I decided to write my own. I borrowed a few of the fancy words and accomplishments of siblings and translated them into my world of motherhood. Here is what I came up with:
"Well Sherrie is working on her Mo.M degree at HOME doing research into diaper brands and kid friendly foods. She did another Internship this summer (her fifth year in a row!) and the kids just love her so much they can't afford to let her go (not even to the bathroom). She is hopeful that they will begin paying her for her hard work soon. She took first place in the Jr. Sleep Deprivation Challenge Championships for all mothers of reflux/colicky babies and qualified for the US Jr. National Sleep Recovery team. She graduated Valedictorian from Diaper Changing Two Children with a DDCA (Daily Diaper Changing Average) of 5. She also earned 10 letters in cleaning, cooking, driving, refereeing, consulting, nursing (as in medically), nursing (not as in medically), crying, loving, and counseling. While the number of days the floor was mopped hit an all-time low in 2010, 2011 showed a huge improvement for a total of 6 days! Don't miss her on Channel 27 news whenever they need the opinion of which snacks are easiest to throw in the diaper bag for outings."
Now doesn't that give a better idea of what the life of a mom is all about? Thanks dad for always putting together a great newsletter and for indulging me in this by actually putting it in there!
*Writing Tip: Notice how length, word choice, and specific details can bring ideas alive and convey hidden messages. The first example with a single sentence and no details implied simpleness and unimportance. The second one showed complexity and excitement with specific examples, colorful words, and multiple sentences for a single idea.
I love your paragraph. I will have to try it next year. Did you notice my one sentence...Ann enjoys her grandchildren and babysits whenever she can. I think one year it said I really like to mow the lawn. Being a great parent is the ultimate accomplishment, it just doesn't have much literary appeal. Three cheers for great mothers!
I don't know if your dad passed it on, but when I got your guys' family letter last year I wrote and told him I LOVED your paragraph. It was the best one by far!
That was my favorite ever BTW. Laughed so hard and it is so true! Thanks for putting it so cleverly :)
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