What do we usually think after we hear something funny or amazing our kids say? “Oh, I’ve got to remember to write that down!” And how many times do we stop to write it down, let alone remember the phrase at all? I’ve caught myself telling my husband, “Kestan said the funniest thing today but I can’t remember what it was.” Forgetting really started to frustrate me, so I had to come up with a quick and simple solution to capture his stories.
I started a baby book, but it was never very convenient to go find it and write down the funny line, amazing question, or the sweet gesture my son did that day. So instead, I started posting his lines on my personal Facebook page. Whenever I catch myself thinking, “I’ve got to remember this,” I stop, grab my phone and post it instantly (using my Iphone app.) This started to become a very quick and easy way to capture those memories. (Other ideas for quick capture: create a document on your desktop computer that you can keep open throughout the day, keep a small notebook in your purse, or use an audio voice recorder. Remember to write or say the date!)
So I had found a quick and easy way to capture the moments before my memory failed me, but my method was lacking a personal touch. If I wanted to remember when he started asking “Why?” instead of “What’s that?” or the time he made everyone in the store laugh when he yelled, “God made Costco!” then I’d have to sift through pages and pages of old posts on my computer to find them.
I wanted something that I could give him one day, something in my own handwriting, in my own words, sharing not only his stories, but also my feelings about being his mother. So that’s when I decided to combine my love of art journaling with my desire to capture this precious time we are experiencing together.
Art journaling is a little different than scrap booking, in that although I do document certain details about the day in my journal, I like to go a little deeper and really explore my feelings about the experiences I’m having. Rather than trying to find the perfect stamp, die-cut, or matching ribbons for the page, art journaling allows me to create from a more intuitive, relaxed, and imperfect place.
The season of autumn is a wonderful time to reflect, to observe, and to celebrate your ever-changing journey as a mother. Playing with very simple supplies in your journal will give you the opportunity to explore the unique and oh-so-special relationships you are cultivating with your children.
A journal (I found an acid-free one in the photo album area of my local craft store.)
Watercolor paints, brushes and cup for water
Your favorite photos
Favorite writing pens, gel pens, and markers
Scrapbook adhesives and/or glue stick
It’s very easy to get stuck when facing a blank, white page. So the first thing you want to do is get your supplies and workspace ready. Find a table that you can spread out on, and one where you won’t mind leaving your materials out for a short while. Play some of your favorite, relaxing, or inspiring music.
Remember that there is no right way to create here, so take a deep breath, let yourself relax, have fun and begin.
My 2 1/2 year-old loves to create by my side so I let him color directly in my journal. His beautiful markings make great background pages for my writings and photos. I also love the look of adding watercolor directly over the crayons.
Start by painting some background pages – simply use the colors that you are drawn to. Try not to over think it. Let the water drip, mix colors, use different size brushes and be messy. You can also use the side of a crayon, color, or doodle designs to embellish your background pages.
After the pages are dry (use a hairdryer if you don’t want to wait), start writing the stories you wish to remember directly over the painted pages with your favorite writing pens or markers. (This is where that quick capture method comes in handy. Rather than trying to remember off the top of my head, I go back to my Facebook page to remind myself.)
I like keeping my journal really simple, so many times I just write the story directly on the white paper. Here I decided to highlight some of my favorite quotes that Kestan has said using scrap paper.
Not only do I write down funny stories or quotes, but I find that my mommy art journal allows me a place to explore my deeper feelings about new experiences we might be facing together. One transition that I’ve written about is our nursing and weaning relationship. It is one that is very near and dear to my heart.
Kestan has nursed for over two years and now just asks for “mulk” at naptime. We’ve talked about the fact that his baby brother is coming soon, and that baby brother won’t have teeth, so he’ll have to drink lots of milk. One day Kestan exclaimed, “I’m all done with milk and now baby brother can drink milk.” I was surprised and excited for him. A few days later, though, he decided that he did indeed want milk again and that he would “share” with baby brother. He also added, “I’m still little, mommy.”
I never in a million years would have guessed I’d be nursing a 2 1/2 year-old before I had kids, but after becoming a mother I knew that letting my son wean himself felt like the most natural path for us. I know much of this I won’t forget, and yet, years down the road I really want to remember how I was feeling exploring this new journey for the first time.
So think about the experiences that mean the most to you right now as a mother. Ask yourself questions like, “What do I love most about being a mom? What was one thing I was really scared of at first, but now feel really confident about? How has having children changed me? What do I hope most for my little one’s life?” Find photos that are meaningful to you, color some background pages, and write from your heart.
*Paste envelopes to some of your pages as a place to hold other memorabilia you might want to save.
*Collect artwork your child has created and use them as background pages by pasting them directly in your journal.
*Collect images, words or phrases from old magazines, embellish your pages with stamps, play with lettering, or add acrylics to the mix. How about painting your child’s hands or feet and let them stamp directly on a page?
Really, once you get started you’ll find that the possibilities are endless. Art journaling your mommy journey is quite a treasure – a gift for both you and your family for many years to come.
Shannon Kinney-Duh is married to a lovely man, and the mother of one boy, with another one on the way this autumn. She’s an artist, yoga & self-discovery teacher/coach and she considers herself an explorer of life. You can learn more about her by visiting her blog freespiritknits.