Photo: Freeimages.com – Sue Anna Joe
When I was a kid, Mom encouraged me to keep a journal. "Aw, do I have to write?" I often complained.
She said I'd thank her as an adult.
My mother documented her experiences and viewed things from my kid perspective. The diary, sometimes written in the second person, was like a pre-internet blog.
She gave me the diary when I was a teenager. It moved me to read her thoughts and feelings, how she put herself in my shoes.
I've always been comfortable with the written word. It helps me focus my thoughts; therapy, really. I was a painfully shy child, uncomfortable speaking my mind. But give me pencil and paper, and a new world opened. I crafted my daydreams, fanciful landscapes, let my imagination soar. Doodled.
I lost myself in my stories.
Mom encouraged us to read, always taking us to the library. I was amazed at the seemingly endless shelves of books. You had to thumb through musty pages, experience a story in linear fashion. So different than the hyperlinked internet. Call me old school, but I prefer the feel of paper.
I flipped through the pages of the diary. Transported back to 1977.
Took you to see the Star War (sic). Pop corn was a part you expected and after the pop corn, your lip was dry by the pop corn's salt, so you wanted the Coke.
I imagined myself munching away and slurping my pop. Not unlike my own kids lapping up the latest iterations of Star Wars movies: The Force Awakens and Rogue One.
I keep this diary on my bookshelf and leaf through it now and then.
This diary is magic.
A time capsule documenting my mother's love—blemishes and all. Her joys, frustrations, worries and dreams. A gift allowing me to travel through time and see things through a young mother's eyes. And how she saw things through a young boy's eyes.
This gift encouraged me to do the same for my kids. Reams of notebooks, scribbled notes. Word docs on an old laptop. This blog. My joys, my fears, my concerns, my hopes—for my children.
When they're older, I plan to give them these records. To give them a glimpse of their old man, when he was younger.
I have my mom to thank for this. She fostered a love of reading and writing. She inspired me to write. For this, I will always be grateful.
Happy Mother's Day, Mama. I love you.
P.S. Want to journal for your kids? Tips below.
- Write longhand sometimes (provides a visceral sensation)
- Get your thoughts, feelings down; don't worry how it sounds
- Imagine how your kids feel, how they interpret your actions
- Set a regular time for journalling, even if it's only five minutes
- Embrace your feelings, it's okay to explore "negative" ones
- Be honest with yourself, ensure it's authentic, not contrived
- Revisit journal (gives insight into your feelings at the time)
- Use journal as source material for future writing, editing