Monday, May 02, 2005

Time to Commit to Writing a Journal

I remember when my babies were born. It seemed as though the time stretched before us was unlimited. The little bundle would never change, and the days strung together endlessly. My world was wrapped up in an unending whirlwind of feedings, changings, rockings and cuddlings, punctuated by the more mundane parts of taking care of a home. In short, I was a bit bored. It seemed to me that my world was on "pause" and would stay there for the next several years.

Now that the little ones are 17, 15 and 12 respectively, I can tell that that impression simply was not accurate. Time HAS moved, and quickly, too. My helpless little bundles have grown into teens and are thinking about leaving home. It seems like only yesterday that I was rocking them far into the night because they had ear infections or some other minor ailment. Time has absolutely flown away. None of them need rocked anymore, though from time to time I still offer.

It's easier said than done, I know, but try to treasure your time with your baby. Try to look past the routine and the mundane parts of being a parent and see if you can get a dim glimpse of your child as a teen or a young adult. Those changes happen so fast that later it will seem as though you blinked and missed part of your child's life somewhere along the way.

I think what bothers me the most about this sudden realization is the fact that I feel like I'm losing the details of the kids' being from when they were tiny. I have a few photographs, some random video clips, and the notes that my husband took so meticulously during their first year, but much of the detail is fading from my mind. I can look through the girls' "saving boxes" and find scraps of their first attempts at writing and gummy glue-encrusted art projects from preschool that we saved, but the feelings that I know I had and the thoughts that I know crossed my mind are more faded than the scraps of construction paper.

If I have one regret, I guess it's that I didn't keep a journal while all of this was going on. I think if I had it to do over again, I would make that teensy bit of time to write a sentence or two every day about what was going on in my world. At the time, I know I felt too busy and harried to do any such thing, and I'm sure that's what you're saying to me right this minute. She's got to be crazy, you think. She really can't remember what it was like chasing three little ones around the house day in and day out. There's no way to make time for something as frivolous as journaling.

There's the mistake, right in that last sentence. At the time, I thought of journaling as a frivolous waste of my time. I thought of it as a luxury that I just couldn't afford. My views have changed with the passing of time, and I fervently wish that I had taken those few moments to jot down my thoughts. I suspect your views will change, too. So from the vantage point of nearly eighteen years in the Mommy Business, I'm suggesting that you ignore those feelings that you're wasting time and start or resume your journal today.

Not only will you be fixing memories that really will fade over the coming years, you will be creating a link with the past that your children will come to appreciate when they are grown. Your journal will help them to understand parenthood more fully, and feel a closer bond with you once they are adults.

Now, when could you find time to make entries in a journal? Hmmmm. I think what would've worked best for me was those early morning hours when the little ones were still in bed. We usually had an hour or two between when my husband left for work and when they woke up and needed my attention. Another time would've been during the first few minutes of nap time. I think I could've gotten a minute to jot down thoughts if it had been a priority.

Consider making it your priority today. You needn't do this every day, even. Just put something down regularly. I suspect that you will be very glad that you did at some point in the future.

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