Last night, as my baby slept in my arms, I wrote letters to her and to my 2.5 year old son. I’ve kept a journal for my boy since before I was even pregnant, writing wishes and thoughts on paper. I have one for my little daughter too, telling her of my pregnancy journey and all the wonderful things she does. I’m begging you to do something similar for your children. Write, paint, record your voice. Something. IT IS SO WORTH IT.
With my first child, it was easy to find time to write almost every day. When I became an insomniac towards the end of my pregnancy, I’d find myself writing to him at 2am. I sat in low light with a large spiral notebook and a pen, and would scribble away. It became like therapy for me, and a surprising way to bond with a child I hadn’t yet met. I always had more things to say: thoughts while sitting at church (how was Mary’s labor and birth of Christ?), how big my son was in the womb (“wow honey you’re a kumquat!”), telling him what I was listening to and wondering if he’d have the same tastes I did. Entries were labeled with the date and how many weeks I was (and later how many weeks old he was).
I am on my second notebook with my son – the completed one sits in a fireproof safe, and I consider it one of my most prized possessions. I hope to give it to him one day when he can appreciate it.
Nowadays, with two kids under three, my journaling has taken a different form. Usually it involves my phone, talk to text, and the Notes app. Sometimes I do voice recordings too, of the stupid little songs I sing or of my daughter cooing and giggling while my son sleeps.
While I wish that I had the time to write everything out in my own handwriting, I am so grateful that I started to do this years ago. And not just for my kids, but for me too. It was an incredible trip down memory lane to look through my old journals when I found out I was pregnant with my second child. So many memories came flooding back, and it helped me grow from a mother of one to a mother of two.
I have also seen people creating free email accounts for their children, and writing them regular emails that they can get when they are older.
Don’t let it become a diary – they don’t need to know what you ate today or how you like your new shampoo. The point is that you should have an intimate, sincere conversation with your future child.
Do let them know what they are doing in their life, their quirks and their interests and their fears. Tell them about what you are doing together. What are you proud of? What are your struggles? Become human in their eyes. It’s ok to show your scars and your flaws. They’re your flesh and blood.
This seems rather silly now, but in my very first journal to my son I wrote a lot about where we were living at the time, what pets we had, the price of various things like milk and eggs; I wanted him to have a feel for what life was like. I made extensive lists of Daddy’s and my favorite songs, foods, movies; I included a long list of “get to know Mama and Daddy” facts, like how Daddy used to be a DJ and Mama wanted to be a stunt driver. I wanted them to really know us and read about funny unexpected things.
And each of my kids get their own journals – my daughter is not just going to have copies of her big brother’s. This takes an insane amount of time, even with modern technology. But she’s worth it and deserves it just like my son does. Ironically, I started both of their journals before I was even pregnant, just writing to the future children I hoped I would have. So now they will be able to read all about how we prepared for them, their birth story, all the good stuff!
A tiny part of me fears that when my kids are older, and I choose to give them these, that they’ll blow it off or think it’s a silly gift. Really these notebooks are pieces of my heart on paper. I confided in my children through these spirals before each of them had even been born. I cried, leaning over the dinner table and scrawling out my hopes for them and my fierce desire to protect them. I attempted to show them how I love them so, and always will. I wrote out sheet music of the lullabies I wrote, and the prayers I recite every night. Anything and everything I want them to know, just in case I miss something along the way. Or it’s not said enough. Or I’m not here anymore to say it.
Whatever medium you choose to connect with your child, I hope that you find an outlet such as this to express your love for them. In your words or brush strokes, you will learn so much about love and motherhood. And you will find yourself in between the lines.
Want some examples? Two of my letters to my kids are all over Pinterest! Feel free to use them as a template; though rather formal than most of my journal entries to my kids, they’re a great way to get thinking about what you’d like to say to your children.