This story is part of a series on Writing and Memories that was commissioned by Cori Howard, the instructor of the SheWrites online class, Writing for Moms. Each story in this series is written by one of the students in these classes. The next session starts in January. Click here for more registration and more details. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kate Barry Oliviero
I write because it makes me a better mother.
As a stay-at-home mom to three children under the age of four, I spend the majority of my time taking care of other people - cooking meals, changing diapers, doing laundry and kissing boo boos. But the time I give myself to write is mine. There is something delicious about the companionship of a blank page. With each word and emotion that spills out, I feel more like myself, the woman I used to be before I became forevermore a mother first. For the length of an afternoon nap, my thoughts are my own. I emerge refreshed, clear-headed and smiling. Writing is a gift I give to myself.
But writing is also a gift I give to my children. I am the keeper of their memories, the person creating their childhoods and the one charged with remembering the important parts: first words, favorite lullabies, Halloween costumes, birthday party themes and favorite foods.
When my daughter Lucy was two years old she suddenly hated sleeping alone. She asked why her twin brothers got to sleep together, and mommy and daddy slept together, but she, Lucy, was all alone every night. My solution was to buy Lucy a fish to keep on the nightstand next to her bed. For a couple of days, the fish worked its magic. And then one night Lucy came downstairs shortly after I had put her to bed. “Mom,” she said in her raspy young voice. “I want a real person. With legs.” These are the moments that I cherish. And the moments that someday I want to be able to share with her. But if I don’t write them down, I might forget. No, I most definitely will.
All of my childhood memories are infused with my mother. My brother and I orbited around her (though, maybe, in retrospect, it happened the other way around). All I have to do is close my eyes to remember how her eyes twinkled when she laughed, how she held her soft hands on the steering wheel of our grey Volvo and the way her hair smelled like lavender. Mom remembers that I had chicken pox on the bottom of my feet when I was ten and that I lost nine retainers in a single year. She remembers that I thought my name was “Dear” and kept all my crayons in a pink plastic purse. For all I know Mom might be making it up. But whenever I have a question about my childhood, she has an answer.
I live in constant fear that someday I will look back on this period of my life - newly married with three small children - and only remember the struggles: the days when I resent my husband or yell unnecessarily or check email when I should be sitting on the floor with the kids doing puzzles. Capturing the small, sweet moments is my way of guaranteeing that this doesn’t happen. Writing has the power to make memories more vivid. And on the page, beauty, humor and understanding can be found in everything.
Why do you write?