Monday, May 12, 2008

Journaling for Moms

I have a box filled with journals dating back to the second grade. Here's a look at an entry dated April 13, 1986:

"We're mooing. Today I want shoping and we were going to go to Veterans Acres. But Mom was to cold. Sheetie is getting big. I like this day."

No, I did not grow up with a family of cows. I'd actually just learned my family would soon be moving to Georgia from Illinois. Veterans' Acres was a park we frequented and Sheetie refers to Sweetie, our yellow Lab. I love perusing my old journals, although I definitely went through a dark period where my journal read like Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar. (I've always been a bit of a drama queen and sometimes the pages of my journal became a stage for some characters I played in my life such as the heartbroken college girl or the recent graduate who was searching for meaning when it was right there in front of her the whole time in the form of her faith.)

When I became pregnant with my first, I started a journal where I wrote letters to my growing baby. I repeated the tradition with my second child and I *hope* to do it with all of my subsequent children. But this transition from one child to two has been tougher than I expected. I don't have huge blocks of time to muse or to write. The time I do have I often have to use to write things that will actually earn me a paycheck instead of jotting down images I want to remember like the way Rachel Marie, my baby, formed a perfect "O" today with her lips and then started to sing along with her sister, "OHHHHHHHHHHH." (We've definitely got a soprano on our hands.)

Then again, there are days when my only free time must be devoted to things like shaving my legs or scrubbing toilets (I'd rather be writing though).

However, I don't plan to give up journaling all together. No way. No how.

Thankfully, fellow mom and author Heidi Hess Saxton recently wrote a wonderful guest column over at StoryCrafters that has some great advice for journaling when you're a busy and tired mom. I know my biggest problem is that I try to do too much sometimes - keep this blog, write in an old-fashioned journal, keep a fiction journal where I write the "seeds" for stories, jot down favorite Scripture passages and my thoughts based on them, etc. The problem is sometimes I'm spending so much time writing or brainstorming about what I'm going to write about that I'm missing out on the very things I surely want to remember. Motherhood demands that I be present in my children's lives, not just a passive bystander. I always want to carve out some time to journal, but I might not have time to reflect on all of life's mysteries or to write thought-provoking prose.

There will come a day for all that. Right now scribbling down something like the following dialogue between my 3-year-old and me on our way to Mass on Mother's Day is me telling the best story of all:



"I like your dress."

"Thank you."

"And your earrings."

"Thank you, Madeline."

"Your hair looks nice, too."

"You're so sweet."

"Mommy, I like everything. You look real fancy for church. You're vewry beautiful."

Now who really needs to write beautiful prose when you're like visual poetry in your child's eyes and to her, beautiful in every way?

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