Well! You are 9 months and one week old, and you are also 40 WEEKS old…you’re as old as I was pregnant! (Well, technically, I was 41 weeks with you, but you know. Close enough.)
It’s crazy to think that for as long as I was pregnant with you, you’ve now been alive in the world. From just a couple of cells to now being a little guy who pulls himself up on furniture and can sort of feed himself small bits of food and comes SO CLOSE to saying “Mama”…life is incredibly awesome, how you learn and grow.
I’ve always kept a journal. I wrote silly things in it as an angst-ridden teenager (such a tough life growing up in Esko with my very functional family!), the type of stuff that would make great fodder for one of those shows where you read your diary on stage for others’ amusement.
Embarrassing? Sure, but my journal is still the way I work out what’s happening in life. When I got pregnant with my first son, my mind was so blown by the whole experience I had no choice but to journal about it. I had visions of him as an adult, reading my words about him and how excited I was to have him.
Of course, we also have a baby book that we use, one my mom brought us while our son was still in utero. As he grew inside and then outside of me, however, I defaulted to my journal. I kept track of milestones, yes, but also my thoughts about being a mother. I filled up one book and moved to a second. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I started a new journal for her:
I can’t wait for the 20-week ultrasound. The first time I saw you, you were more like a tadpole, all head with a little body and arm and leg buds. You’ll have full arms and legs and hands and feet, and we’ll see your mouth and eyes and nose. You were very wiggly when I first saw you, and I’m excited to see what you’re doing in there. Tap dancing? Yoga? Water polo?
In my son’s journal, though, I reveal what is a common fear: will I be able to love another child as much as I love the first? (The answer is YES.) The night before my daughter’s scheduled C-section due to breech presentation, I wrote in my son’s journal:
Though things will change in the short term, in the long term, your life will be much richer for having a sibling to share this life’s journey. It won’t always be easy as family members will argue, but the depth of our love surpasses minor disconnections in the day-to-day. Just know that you are my very special boy. I love you so much my heart overflows and keeps flowing, a stream to a river to an ocean of love just for you.
Now my kids are 3 years old and 6 months old and I still journal for both of them. It’s probably inevitable that there isn’t as much time to do it, but I keep track of the important and, yes, hilarious stuff. They each have baby books, too, but I like writing these more free-form pieces in journals. I can write what I want, as much or as little as time and my ideas require. I like the journals, too; they’ve got cool covers and the pages aren’t huge, so if I only have time to write a page, it’s not a lot of writing but hey, it’s still a page!
I have a third journal for my eyes only. It’s a place to rejoice and vent, dream and metaphorically slap myself back into reality. It doesn’t matter what my handwriting looks like or if I write a single sentence that’s a whole page long. It’s what I want it to be, and as a parent, it’s nice to have a space that I alone control when my kids’ needs rule in daily life.
I will give my husband some credit: he has written in the baby books. He would agree, though, that the role of Record Keeper-in-Chief is mine, perhaps because I am the English major in the house, but also because, in my sleep-deprived state, my memory is fallible in this “days are long, years are short” time of parenting and I have a strong drive to remember. I know others have huge baby books that are more like scrapbooks, and some have subscriptions to online photo services used to create beautiful photo books. That’s wonderful; these women are the Record Keepers-in-Chief of their houses, too. The journal is my medium, though, and I hope someday my kids are thankful that I kept track of their lives in this way.
Kelli Hallsten has two kids, three years and six months, a full-time job at one of our fine local colleges, and a husband. She met him in 2009 and they bonded over their shared love of music and adventuring to new places across the country. Their kids have kept them closer to home in recent years, but the adventures continue and her life goals include always being curious and getting sleep whenever she can. Kelli loves reading, writing, playing music, and scoring big at thrift stores.