Letters from Strangers

Due to womantalk.org I sometimes get random letters from strangers.

Sometimes, I am asked to write (and get paid).

I have been asked to officiate a wedding (I did – and got paid).

I have been asked to do Waldorf-style puppet shows (surprisingly, this was the most money for the smallest amount of work).

And occasionally, people ask me for advice (even men). It shouldn’t surprise me. I’ve always related to Lucy in the Charlie Brown comic strip – remember how she would set up a cardboard booth with a sign “Psychiatric Help – 5 cents”? Yeah, that’s me: an opinion about everything and a convincing demeanor.

I don’t post their letters unless I have permission. And sometimes I am not comfortable even asking for permission. Here is my response to an email I received recently.

“Hello XXXX,

I am very touched that you would reach out to me. Your circumstances sounds difficult.

It sounds like you are very worried about being a distant mother, although, I have to say that just your level of concern already speaks volumes.

I don’t know you or the details about your life, but the first thing I must ask is if there is any possible way for you to work less hours or stop working altogether? As a stay-at-home mom myself, I consider an important part of my job is to budget so that we live within our means. We live on one income here in Orange County, and although it is sometimes embarrassing to drive a beat-up car, I prefer to be broke and at home than “wealthy” and at work.

While I applaud your efforts to minimize day care time, I imagine that both you and you husband feel overwhelmed and busy most of the time. I have worked with a baby at home (with my eldest daughter) and I know that it is stressful and time-consuming.

I keep in mind the truism that on your deathbed, you’re not going to wish you had a bigger house or a nicer car – you’ll wish you had spent more time with your kids and family.

I would also suggest that you connect with your attachment parenting community in your area. I met a lot of moms through La Leche League and attachment parenting meetups at meetup.com. Learning by imitating good parenting is an easy and natural way to pick up new skills. Spend time with parents and families you admire and respect. Support systems are important and take time to develop.

In terms of parenting books, I recommend Simplicity Parenting by Kim Payne. He is a family therapist and takes things down to the bottom-line: kids don’t need to be in scheduled lessons all day long, they mainly need you to be there, a calm routine, and calm environment.

XXXX, I hope this was helpful. I wish you the best of luck.

Take care,


I fwd’d the exchange to my mother and I appreciated her response. She was a practicing family doctor, and choosing to be a stay-at-home mom was a difficult choice for her:

You are doing a same job what I did for my generation.
I am glad that you have same idea like me. If you have enough money to live by, you should stay home with your kids.
Good job!!

From mom”

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