Journaling Tucks Away Little Gems of Happiness for the Future

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love journal
pens and notebook

One day during the infamous year of 2020, the gravity of colliding worldly occurrences was weighing heavily on me. I was sitting at the kitchen table, having just finished lunch, and my toddler was in the family room playing. My phone pinged. A text message from my mom explained my 91-year-old grandma had been exposed to COVID by her friend, and that friend had since passed away. I hadn’t seen my grandma in over a year because the pandemic had postponed our travel plans back to the East indefinitely. My heart started to ache, and I started to cry.

The tears had barely escaped my eyes before my daughter came, sprinting full tilt, around the couch while yelling, “MAMA NEEDS A HUG!!” She had immediately recognized the sounds of sadness, and when she reached me, she stuck her arms out to be picked up. I folded her into my arms and she gave me her fiercest little hug. Then she held me at arm’s length to look at my face. Firmly, she instructed me, “Q needs to wipe the tears from Mama’s eyes.” I told her oh, okay, thank you. She wiped my tears as I had done for her so many times (except that she was pretty much poking me in the eyes while doing so), then looked down at my hands and completed our interaction with “…and Mama needs some lotion for her hands.” In her innocent way, her deadpan observation of my dry hands gave me that beautiful toddler comic relief that helped me pull out of the metaphorical quicksand. As I put her down after that incredible moment of tenderness, I thought, I never want to forget this.

I always want to be fulfilled remembering the sweet, fleeting moments of my babe’s childhood – times like that one, when her empathetic feelings caused her to charge straight into my lap to “refill my bucket” with some love. That night, I ordered a journal so I could start quickly jotting down the things she does or says that explode my heart, rouse laughter, and bring me joy. Maybe I’ll hang onto it forever so I can peruse it when she’s older and feel the need to remember sweet little moments we’ve shared. Maybe I’ll give it to her at some point. But that’s not the ultimate purpose of journaling – it’s to bring myself some love, joy, and laughter when I need it later, or when I just feel like I want to remember a special moment from her childhood, or when I want to reminisce about something funny that she did.

Let me clarify, too, that I’m not an ultra-organized and on-top-of-it-with-the-baby-books-and-milestones kind of mom. I never made baby books. I never kept track of milestones. I didn’t write down what day she took her first steps, or the first time a tooth popped through, or when she first said mama! in her heavy-tongued little voice. I have photos and videos of some of these things, though, and I look at them whenever I feel the need. But the journal is something different – it helps me capture little moments instead of big milestones. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t start it right away when she was a baby – what matters is that each and every thing I write down will bring me the joy of the little memories I would have forgotten at some point in the future. It doesn’t matter that I won’t write down every little thing (I don’t have the time or energy), but some little things will make it in the journal, and that will definitely be enough to enjoy later. My point: it’s never too late to start this type of thing with your own kids! No matter their age, you are still making little memories with them all the time.

My journal isn’t always nearby when I want to jot something down, so sometimes I will write a note on my phone or shoot myself an email before the memory passes, and then I write it down in the journal later. It doesn’t feel like a chore because it’s such a fun thing that I really look forward to – thinking about the hilarity of my daughter’s words, and whether I’ll remember the intonations of her voice when I read it in the future, or that she replaced a “th” sound with an “f” sound. It only takes a few moments to write something down – a quick conversation or something sweet that she did – and I’ve already been perusing my journal when I need a pick-me-up. I view it as a no-pressure thing for myself to do – if I want to write something down and have the time, then I will, but it’s fine if I don’t, too. There are always more memories to be had!

To inspire you to pick up a pen and have your own bit of journaling joy, here are some of the wonderful, hilarious conversations and tidbits from FMCo. kids and others that we want to hold onto forever. May we never forget the joy of parenting our littles!

Casual Kid Conversations

Mom and daughter, Q. (2 years old)

Mom: “Can you tell me why you’re crying?”

Q: “Mama, I’m NOT crying! I’m whining!”

Dad and daughter, L. (3 years old)

L: “Daddy, I’m going to color this wall!”

Dad: “Mmm… I don’t think so.”

L: *laughs, seems sinister*

Mom and son, K. (2 years old)
Mom’s Friend: “Did you know there is chocolate all over your back?”

Mom: “No…” *looks at son licking the wrapper of a chocolate chip granola bar* “K, did you wipe the chocolate off your hands with my shirt?”

K: *looks at the wrapper, looks around the room* “…No?”

N. (5 years old), who has assumed responsibility as the status monitor of his newly walking brother, D. (1 year old), has taken to narrating the exciting moments of D.’s life –

N: “Guys! D is down! He’s down, guys!”

Mom and son, C. (4 years old)

Mom: *points to a beautiful day-moon in the clear Utah sky* “Hey, can you see that? What do you think that is?”

C: *long, serious pause…* “A TACO!!”

Dad and daughter, L. (3 years old)

L: “I want animal crackers!”

Dad: “You need to eat more bites of your dinner first.”

L: *plugs her ears with her fingers* “I can’t hear you, Daddy!”

Dad and daughter, Q. (2 years old)

Dad: “Do you want to waddle like a penguin?”

Q: “Dad, I’m not a penguin, I’m just a little girl!”

———-THE NEXT DAY———-

Dad: “Are you waddling like a little girl?”

Q: “No, I’m a penguin!”

Mom and son, V. (7 years old)

V: “My throat hurts.”

Mom: *knowing his throat is just dry* “Drink this water bottle.”

V: “Okay, mom, I’m gonna go get drunk.”

Mom and daughter, P. (2 years old)

P: *looking at a wedding photo on the wall* “Mama, you and Daddy got married!”

Mom: “Yup.”

P: “And I got borned!”

Mom: “That’s right!”

P: “Then we ALL got borned!”

Mom: “Well…”

 

Quotable Kids

Q. (2 years old), when asked about her breakfast – “That’s peanut butter with some waffle on it.”


H. (4 years old), when his mom didn’t have the right popsicle on a hot summer day – “Mom, you’re fired.”


A. (5 years old), whenever someone is using the bathroom – “Do you need to hold my hand?”


Q. (2 years old), looking at her dad’s back – “Oh, that’s daddy’s back! There’s a lot of… fur on it.”


J. (2 years old), known for ending his birthday card dictations with “Amen”


S. (4 years old), making shapes out of magnets and saying things that are so apropos to the pandemic – “Mommy, look! I’m building a friend!”


Q. (2 years old), anytime someone tells her something she doesn’t want to hear – “Don’t break my heart!”


C. (5 years old), on getting mom’s attention – “Now hear this…”


Q. (2 years old), after imagining and removing splinters from her stuffed animals – “They were so brave, so they can watch Sesame Street now.”


J. (4 years old), using his favorite conversation starter – “Let me tell you something…”


 

[Mis]Pronunciations

E. (2 years old), a connoisseur of combining English words and English and Spanish words, calls her socks “sock-tines”, ends prayers with “amen-d milk” because she thinks amen sounds like almond, and comes up with classic combos like diaper creamer, salad dresser, and chocolate chip-munk


L. (2 years old), in reference to cottage cheese – “Mommy, you need to eat courage cheese!”


J. (2 years old), knows toothpaste only as “tooth cheese,” which is now what the rest of the house calls it


E. (2 years old), pronounces tomorrow like “morrow”, kind of like she’s a posh old English person saying “on the morrow”


 

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