I am a mother and a writer, and like the shoemaker whose children went barefoot, I have not written anything to mark the years of my own children’s lives. They’ve made do with cheesy greeting cards and embarrassing reminiscing in my blog.
Other mothers put me to shame. They archive their thoughts and family stories and give the recollections to their children.
Suzanne Reynolds, who advises students on college applications and essays, has written, bound and self-published two books for her sons, Wesley, 28, and Hudson, 27. The first she called The Book of Mom. It contains family lore from when she was a young girl.
“My sons used to say, ‘Tell us about the time…,’ and so I decided to write down all the stories of my youth that I told my sons over the years,” Reynolds said.
She tells of the time she cut her sister’s bangs to the point where her sister had to wear a hair band for months, and the time she got bubblegum stuck in her hair. There are family photos and funny stories. Her sons say they like seeing her as a real person.
“My boys can see themselves in us, and they can say, ‘Oh well, my mom was like that too,’” she said, laughing.
Three years ago, she wrote another book for her sons called The World’s Worst Cook’s Book – A Collection of Fond Memories, Easy Recipes, Good Times and Bad Examples.
Illustrated with adorable cartoons, the book is full of stories about fussy eating, how to make a romantic meal, and how to make a quick and easy “desperation dinner,” and it includes old family recipes. She’s now writing a sequel.
Michelle Fredricks, a sales representative for a women’s clothing line, decided to journal her adventure through pregnancy for her children, Mia, now 16, and Reed, 14.
She used the pregnancy journal Letters to a Child Being Born by Karen Scott Boates and started writing the day she found out she was expecting Mia. Once or twice a week she wrote her feelings down, from the changes in her body to the first time hearing the heartbeat to the feelings of love she had for her child.
“Journaling is a wonderful way to remember certain events in your life,” Fredricks said. “I wouldn’t recall all those special, sweet moments unless it was in writing.”
She presented Mia’s book to her on her 16th birthday, and she has son Reed’s book ready to give to him in the future.
Mia’s reaction? “Mom, you are so weird.” But, her mother said, “In the years to come I think she will really appreciate having it.” The journal sits in a prominent place on Mia’s night table.
Although Fredricks admits not writing as often in her son’s journal, when she reads her entries she remembers the many emotions she had at that time, as her mother had recently passed away.
“I told him that I found out I was pregnant with him 11 days after my mom died, and that he would be named in her memory,” she said.
Shari Fish, a certified wellness coach, wrote letters to her three children throughout their lives. She kept all those letters in a binder, decorated it and then presented it to daughter Stephanie Fish, now 21, and son Brian, called Bubba and now 19, when they graduated high school. Staci, 17, will receive hers soon.
“I knew that there would be lots I would want to tell them, and I probably wouldn’t remember unless I took the time to write it down,” Fish said. “It is one of the coolest things to see their metamorphosis and changes through the years in the letters. It is like a lesson in child development.”
As can be imagined, the gift moved daughter Stephanie to tears.
“I was really moved that my mom took the time to do this for me and to tell me that she loved me unconditionally,” she said.
Stephanie said the letters made her realize how her mom was affected when Stephanie was struggling as a teen.
“I never thought about how my mom felt through the times when things were rough for me, but the letters during those times really opened my eyes to the way my mom suffered too,” Stephanie said.
“I cry every time I read it.”
Editor’s note: Those who spend more time online than writing a journal may want to consider iPhone apps such as Momento or Facebook apps such as EgoBook that turn your digital musings into scrapbooks.