I found this old, worn but never written in notebook at a second-hand store. I almost left it behind – brown and unassuming with a gold embroidered border around the front cover. It had a silhouette of mother and child on the front and the words “Treasuring a quiet moment” written faintly on the bottom. I did not have any children at the time but hoped that one day I might. I purchased the notebook and tucked it away. I hoped to fill the pages someday with something, but I was not sure what.
I decided about a month after I discovered that I was expecting to start writing things down. At first, I wrote about pregnancy symptoms and how I revealed the news to my husband. I would occasionally make notes about doctor’s visits or books I was reading. Before long, I was no longer writing for myself and about myself. I began writing to her directly.
I told her things about herself that I had noticed even before she came into the world. I talked about my worries, fears, expectations, and prayers for her. I wrote about why we named her what we did and the meaning behind her name. I talked to her about what it was like to become a mother, and once she arrived, I wrote about what it was like to be her mom. It started as my effort to be present and simply not forget all the wonderful things that were happening. It ended up being a chronicle of a mother’s love story unfolding week by week and month by month.
I didn’t set any particular goals, and I wrote freely when I felt like I had something to write about. Sometimes I went weeks without writing a thing, but I always found myself going back to it. My goal was simple – to fill the pages, and then I would consider it done … whenever that happened to be. I completed my last entry when my daughter was a year-and-a-half-old.
By that point, we had gone through so much as a family, and I was able to document so many firsts. Her first words, first airplane ride, and first trip to the beach are all cemented in the pages in detail. I wrote about her first foods and early habits, and love language. I also documented what it was like when she got her first tooth and how much she hated having her teeth brushed.
I filled the last few pages writing about my hopes for her, and I asked her to remember where she comes from and that she is loved. I told her about her sensitive nature and how her feelings can be easily hurt. I reminded her that she has a strong will, which can be good or bad, depending on how she applies it. I applauded her sense of humor and intuition. I asked her to keep being herself.
I also wrote about grief and the challenges I faced in motherhood. I wrote about my support system and the people who rallied around us when we didn’t have family close by to depend on. I shared my reflections on our breastfeeding journey and insight into the health challenges I faced that led me to wean.
I plan to one day give this hand-written treasure to her. I’m not sure when. I figure that life will let me know when the right time has arrived. I hope she will cherish it and be reminded, no matter what comes her way, that she is loved and was loved from the very beginning. If things are ever strained between us, I hope this is one of the foundational pieces I can refer to.
With age, I expect that I will eventually forget some of the finer details. I am so grateful now that I took the time to memorialize our experiences and have the ability to pass it on.