• Cori Howard
  • Memories, Motherhood and Making Stories: How I Learned to Keep Two Records - One for Me and One for...
Memories, Motherhood and Making Stories: How I Learned to Keep Two Records - One for Me and One for my Kids
Contributor
Written by
Cori Howard
November 2011
Contributor
Written by
Cori Howard
November 2011

Over the next week, guest editor, Cori Howard, has invited students of her online Writing for Moms classes here on SheWrites to post stories on the topic of memories and writing and how the two converge and play an important role in our experiences as mothers. Hope you’ll join the conversation. Cori Howard starts us off…..

 

I lie in bed and stare at the pictures on my dresser. My daughter’s six-year-old face stares back at me. I examine her slight smile, her crooked tie, her straight, dark hair carefully tucked to one side. Suddenly, I am overwhelmed with sadness. She’s now in Grade 2 and I haven’t been paying enough attention. Days slip by and I’m constantly overwhelmed and distracted by work, deadlines, groceries, meals, laundry, doctors appointments and homework that I’ve forgotten to play with her for weeks now, forgotten to slow down and just sit with her, to stop what I’m doing and just be with her.

Months have passed and I haven’t written a thing about her. That’s really what this sadness is about. I can give myself a hard time, but really, I have paid attention. I have played with her, read to her, held her, kissed her. It’s just never enough.

My real sadness is about the undocumented passage of time. If I write it down, I have a written record to return to in moments like these, in moments of forgetfulness – something that will transport me back to times I don’t remember, moments of intense awe and bliss or struggle that become a general haze. Without words, my memories are like a fog, bereft of the details that matter.

I started writing about my kids when they were born – and for that, I’m so grateful. I can go back anytime through the scrapbooks I made for them and read about lazy summer afternoons at the beach with my first baby, or walking under the falling leaves with my daughter in her sling until she fell asleep.

I go back to those books often. I am more sentimental and nostalgic than I ever thought possible. But I wish I had had more direction in creating those books. I wrote all my feelings onto scraps of paper – feelings of resentment about my work, struggles with sleep and nighttime feedings -- stuff my children don’t ever need to read.

I wish I’d known then what I know now: to keep two books, one for me and one for them. In mine, I now write all the sentimental memories, the marital struggles, the challenges with parenting. In their books, I write stories for them – stories about amazing things they said or did, stories that show the people they are becoming, stories of growing up and exploring the world. 

It wasn’t until I started teaching other moms to write their memoirs that I understood the importance of “audience” – even in scrapbooks. As a professional writer, I understand its value in memoir writing. But it’s a value that applies across the board.

I’m so glad I got a chance to correct my mistakes and start keeping two records while my kids are still young. What about you? Do you keep two records? How do you record your memories of motherhood?

 

Cori Howard is editor of Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth about Motherhood and the founder of The Momoir Project – offering online writing classes for moms here on SheWrites. For more information on her classes, please click here.

 

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Comments
  • Mohana Rajakumar

    Hi everyone: I highly recommend keeping a blog or writing about this as there is so much interest in this topic in the blogosphere and other social media.

     

    I kept one of the entire process of having our first baby: from conception to his first birthday. You can see more about the e-book that it became: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mommy-but-Still-Me-ebook/dp/B0069D1XPS.

    I'd love to send anyone a review copy if interested.

     

    Happy writing!

  • karen lesley markin

    sorry folks i posted before i realised i had hit the wrong key in a couple of words,i have written a story not a stury,and its for not fur forgot to put my glasses on oops!x

  • Kandace Chapple

    I write a column every other month about my kids for the magazine I publish. I realize now what a treasure it is and I wish I had more of them!!!

  • Elaine T. Jones

    I am a great grandmother now, and I didn't start to write until I retired; however, I am making up for lost time. Since I am now the oldest in the family I feel a responsibility to record the information for my cildren and grandchildren. I want them to know what life was like for their ancestors. My book, "Price Road, was written for them get the information of their history without it seeming like a boring history lesson. Those of you who are writing for your children earlier are so wise... kudos to you

  • Rachel Cann

    I write about my son a lot and he is still probably angry I spent so much time on my computer. He's 41 now and only reads graphic novels. Keeping a journal is a good idea, one I never did, so reconstructing from memory gets harder and harder the older I get.

  • LuAnn Braley

    I try to keep separate records, because I would like my children to have a copy to take with them when they leave the nest, but still have a record for myself that I can read while drinking herb tea and crying. :O)

  • Kathy Moores

    I have a journals for both of my children and keep a notebook beside my bed for my own ramblings as well.   In their books I write about our time together, milestones and funny things they've done.  I have written about some of the struggles as well because I think it's an important part of their lives and an important part of motherhood, however, I do write about it very differently (much more PG) than if I was writing it in my own journal.

    Great post, Cori!  

  • Bridget Straub

    Here's the beauty of journaling about your kids, you can always go back and write the edited version for them. Sure, if you have time, why not start from the beginning, but at least the memories are there and documented.