I started my first journal as an assignment in high school. January 25, 1991, 10th period composition class. Hmmmm, I was 15 then.
Back then, it started out as something I had to do for credit. We were given different things to write about and turned in our journals to be graded each week.
I enjoyed it. And I kept writing even after I didn’t have to.
There were more journals after that first one. Early ones filled with teenage uncertainty, drama, angst. Later, as life got busier with jobs and kids, I wrote less. I stopped writing in my “all purpose” journal, and started a pregnancy journal for each child. Each would chronicle my pregnancy, hopes and fears, body changes, and later would also include notes about the baby. How I felt (depressed initially, elated eventually), and every once in a while I go back into those journals and jot some notes about, or a letter to that child….talking about them and how much I love them.
Once in a while, I will come across my stack of journals and page through them…reading things I can’t believe I’d forgotten in some cases. Sometimes, when I’m feeling REALLY wild and crazy, I will look up the same date in different journals to see how my life changed over the years.
Here’s how it works. Usually, I’ll check out what I was doing “today”, or a date close to it. So……..On May 1st, 1991, My teenage self was focusing on the very important topic of boys, which one’s I liked, which ones liked me, and how I can’t believe one of the guys I’d been drooling over was actually dating an old friend of mine from middle school…. and WHAT is up with that, “She’s not as pretty as me and her personality is just strange!”
That journal is really hard for me to read. I’m just….embarrassed for myself.
5/1/1997, Pregnancy journal 1: I was up to 155# at the doctor appointment that day, complaining about back pain, hip pain, worrying about labor, and getting up all night to pee still sucked.
4/28/2001, Pregnancy journal 2: “Today was one of the worst days. I cried today a few times.” The baby (3 weeks) has been crying so much, I’m sleep deprived, I saw blood in his diaper and was taking him in to the doctor.
5/1/2010, Pregnancy journal 3: “Sammy is 3 weeks old tomorrow….I’m feeling much better, I feel like we’ve finally bonded. Doing better with breastfeeding-don’t feel so much like he’s not going to survive or something.”
5/13/11, Regular journal: “Rachel will be 14 tomorrow…in a lot of ways those days were really the happiest of my life, I miss it. Things just get busier and harder, I have less and less time. I miss those days with her, I really was the center of her world. I hugged her yesterday after her game, she was upset for playing bad. She didn’t give me much of a hug back. She always seems to be holding back now, doesn’t want to get too close. I hope this changes, I miss her hugs. She’s almost a grown up now. I’m so sad about it, it came too fast!! I wish I could just go back to when she was younger, just to visit and feel those memories happening around me again. Thank God the kids are all good and healthy, I really have been blessed!”
5/1/2012, Pregnancy journal 4: It’s hard to study, I’m so tired at night I fall asleep whenever I sit down to relax. “Six weeks pregnant now, baby is the size of an ice cream sprinkle.”
5/9/2013, Pregnancy journal 4: “my Jenna-Bean, you are amazing! Why do I find you so wonderful, cute, perfect, adorable and fun?? Because you are!! Thank you God for this angel, I could not have asked for anything more…”
These journals are a treasure for me. They really are a way for me to get back into the moments we can’t hold onto forever. Yes, I can’t stand the teen I was, superficial, selfish, and sooooo annoying. But I sure can relate to my own teen as I read the entries of a teenage me, and cringe the entire time.
I visit painful memories. Happy memories, sad memories. I empathize with the depressed me suffering with PPD and worrying that she/I may never feel better again. I enjoy silly memories of my kids growing up. I have mixed feelings still when I read entries about preparing for my first wedding, and the wishes, hopes, and dreams I penned onto those pages. I shake my head at how young that girl was, and how grown up she thought she was.
I realize that time will not stop. My kids will continue to grow, and one day have families of their own. I feel like my daughters will probably want to read the things I’ve written about them, starting with my first positive pregnancy test…..and only ending when I no longer have the presence of mind to continue writing. I’m not sure about the boys….but I still keep writing about them, and writing to them.
There is something special about choosing a new journal. It must be hardcover, not too thick or thin. I hold it in my hand, flipping through it’s empty pages, and wonder where I will be in life by the time I fill those pages. When I find a new journal that looks and feels just “right”… I take it home and open it up, usually 12am or later when everyone in the house is in bed. This is my time to be alone with my thoughts. I put the date on the inside cover, and wonder who will eventually read these pages, and what will they think of me?
And then I start writing.