WRITING: THE GIFT I GIVE TO MYSELF AND MY CHILDREN
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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 [email protected]

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? 

 

 To sign up for the next session of Writing for Moms, an online SheWrites class, please click here ; or email: [email protected]

 

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Comments
  • J.Q. Rose Writing

    My girls are now mothers themselves. I wrote down a few anecdotes when they were small. Now I am determined to write down some of their exploits as they grew up to become such wonderful young women and mothers. You are very wise to begin writing now!

  • I can so relate. Very nice post, Kate.

  • Charlotte Bumstead

    I love this! Ever since reading the novel "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson, I promised myself I would keep a journal for my kids (one day in the future). I plan to record all of the cherised moments so they can look back and read it when they are older. As you explain in your reasons for writing, the journal will be both beneficial to myself as an escape with the words, and also to them as a reminder of memories they never would have otherwise remembered. Beautifully written piece, thanks for sharing :) 

  • Jessica Vealitzek

    Great piece, Kate. I could relate to every word.

  • Ramona King

    Beautifully written...  Thank you for your memories.

  • Rebecca Scott

    I recently started a blog for very much the same reasons you give for writing. Writing is a wonderful way to reconnect with yourself after a long day of motherhood. I couldn't agree more that writing also makes you a better mother - I think it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our day, process our thoughts and feelings so we can approach tomorrow more connected with ourselves and our lives and our children. Thanks for a lovely post.

  • Chivas Sandage

    Lucy's request--"I want a real person. With legs"--made me laugh out loud and then I had to read it to my teenage daughter sitting next to me. Thank you for your writing!

  • Amiee White Beazley

    Would love to read more! Beautiful piece.

  • Kelly Coyle DiNorcia

    "forevermore a mother first" - beautiful!

  • Sarah Marxer

    Nice piece, Kate!