What Journalling Has To Offer You As A Parent

Self on 11.08.12
Contributing Writer bio

Photo: Julie Gibbons/Creative Commons

My journal has been a trusty companion since I was ten years old. That was the year my grandmother gave me a diary with a soft, hazy cover photo of a teddy bear surrounded by roses. Sadly, it didn’t have a lock and key, but at least it had a matching bookmark with a pink tassel. I wrote faithfully in that diary till it filled up, then I moved on to the next one, which was covered in pictures of quilts from the Smithsonian – not nearly as attractive as the first. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a large cardboard box full of finished diaries with diverse covers, bursting with the details of my childhood, teen years, the beginning of adulthood, pregnancy, and motherhood. Beyond my addiction to writing, I’m starting to realize how special it is to have a form of documentation from the past, because it’s scary how much I forget if it’s not written down.

That is why my journal has become an integral part of my life as a mother. It’s where I record the funny questions and sayings that only a small child learning about the world can come up with. It’s where I escape once in awhile to rant and rave about the fatigue of motherhood and dream about a quieter, calmer future. My journal is a non-judgmental friend who’s always there to reassure me in some way. Inevitably, while flipping back through the pages, I always stumble across some memory of my kids that makes me smile, or at least feel better. Sometimes I just need to compare horrible days and know that, at least today, it’s not that bad!

What I’m really looking forward to is having a personal record of my children’s lives that goes deeper than photos or video clips. These journals contain the thoughts and ruminations of a mother, utterly in love with her children, amazed by their development, devoted to their upbringing. I’ll turn to my journals if I’m lucky enough to write a speech for their weddings some day, because that’s where the really good material comes from.

Journaling adds a dimension to parenting that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I do recommend giving it a try if you haven’t yet. If you’re not the crazy writer type, then start by keeping a notebook full of your kids’ quotes. Those alone can be the key to a whole trove of memories that are priceless. Keep it by your bed and scribble a line or two each night before you go to sleep. Slowly but surely, it will become one of your most prized possessions.

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