Ever since I could put pen to paper, I’ve had a diary. My mom recently found my first one and sent it to me, the kind with the lock, although the lock was long gone. The first few pages are filled with colorful drawings, then the pages move to cramped, furious script, long diatribes about how much my parents prefer my sister and how unfair they are. The anger in those pages still moves me, still resonates, although that pesky little sister is now one of my closest friend, the one I call every day to commiserate about motherhood, blogging, and life.
Over the years, I’ve wrestled how to address my diary. Once dear diary seemed too juvenile, I addressed my rants to future self, but the pressure to catch the diary up to the present day happenings was too strong, and I took a hiatus from journaling. Today my diary is in the form of morning pages, inspired by Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way. Although Julia gave me the discipline to do the morning pages, they’ve quickly become as therapeutic as that early locket diary. With the house coming to life all around me, I scribble three freeform pages feverishly about the filaments of my dreams, my goals of the day, and my deep dark burning ambitions. The kids call them my secret pages and they know to slip into the bed and snuggle quietly while I write. It’s a new rituatl for us, but it brings peace to everyone as we start our day.
There’s another type of journaling going on in our home which has been as important if not more so than the morning pages. It’s a shared journal called Just Between Us that I write with Bella. We started it at Christmas, after the journal along with various art supplies made its way into her stocking. Through the journal’s prompts, we’ve broached many difficult topics. Some have morphed into a real life conversations. Others have remained on the page, a written conversation.
The journal has writing prompts to guide conversation. Some are mom prompts, some are daughter prompts, and some are shared. Here are a few:
- Before I fall asleep, I think about…
- Something I’d do if I knew I’d never fail
- Favorite thing about my mom
- What I was like when I was your age
The blank pages in the journal increase as you move through it, getting us slowly ready to just share a journal without prompts.
We pass the journal back and forth every few weeks, leaving it on each other’s pillow with the updated pages marked with a bookmark. Seeing that book waiting for me at bedtime is like a special gift, the trust of secrets shared only with me, the gift of conversation with my tween. Bella started middle school this year, a new world with lockers, advanced placement classes, clubs, and a whole new set of social rules. I cried hot tears of fear during parent orientation night, bur our journal has helped us both transition and keep the conversation going through change.