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How the letters I wrote to my baby changed both of our lives

What started as a family tradition is now something we can share with you.
Courtesy Ariella Prince Guttman

The phrase “time flies” never felt truer to me than when I became a parent. During those first few weeks and months, I was continuously surprised by just how quickly time passed with a newborn. So many moments were simply blending together, and I wanted to somehow capture everything to revisit later. That’s when my husband and I started to write our daughter letters (actually emails) to celebrate her various milestones and "firsts'' along the way for all of us to share together as she grows up.

The day I returned to work after my daughter was born seemed like the perfect time for one of those letters, even though it was perhaps more of a milestone for me than it was for her. After spending practically every minute together, being separated for almost the entire day was clearly going to be a big adjustment for both of us.

I sat on the train that morning, I tried to write down what I was feeling to help me navigate the many emotions I’m sure so many parents feel. In addition to being cathartic, it was also my way of reassuring my daughter that although we had a new schedule, I would think of her throughout the day and be there for her when I got home. That letter has turned into my book, "Wherever You’ll Be."

"Wherever You'll Be," by Ariella Prince Guttman and Genevieve Godbout

Throughout my daughter’s first year, my husband and I would often jot down notes whenever she did something new to include in our next letter, such as her first laugh, sleeping through the night (that was a big win), when her teeth started coming in, and when she started eating solid foods. We included some cute memories too, like how she loved to sing and dance to oldies or how she’d run circles around the house holding our hands so tightly with her tiny fingers.

Ariella Prince Guttman has kept a letter-writing tradition alive with her daughter and young son.
Ariella Prince Guttman has kept a letter-writing tradition alive with her daughter and young son.Courtesy Ariella Prince Guttman

On my first Mother’s Day, I wrote how she makes my heart soar and how grateful I was to be her Mommy. In other letters, I recorded the first time she said “I love Mommy,” and when she learned how to blow kisses to us (and to herself in the mirror). It’s been such a pleasure to look back at these written words and recall such wonderful things years later.

As our daughter has grown older, we still write her letters on birthdays, special occasions, and sometimes on a random Tuesday when she says or does something remarkable. We now have a son, too, and have continued the tradition with him.

We hope both of our children will appreciate these letters as much as we enjoy writing them. Time still flies and it can be hard to keep up, but this has helped us pause to appreciate their development, our growth as a family, and to remember those sweet moments that go by all too quickly.