In 2001, while watching a beautiful movie called Billy Elliot with Josh, I had an idea. I don’t fully remember how it unfolded, but in the movie there is some discussion about a journal that the mother kept for her son.
The next day, I bought a journal and started writing to Matan. I decided that I would write a few times a year, capturing his development and antics – and recording our hopes and aspirations for him as he grew. I’ve kept the commitment and now, 9 plus years later, I’m still writing entries to him on his birthday, and once or twice during other times of the year.
Little did I know exactly the type of commitment that I was undertaking by starting this project! I certainly wouldn’t have predicted, in 2001,that I would be keeping up with five journals someday – but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
And I absolutely love this project.
While I don’t prepare much before the birth of a baby, I have made a point, for the last few boys, of hand picking their journals before their birth. I treat myself to an excursion, and take time looking through all of my options and picking the journal that calls to me.
And then, even before the baby is born, I write to him a few times. I write about how excited we all are that he’s entering our family, how we reacted when we found out we were pregnant, and what his brothers are predicting he’ll be. And then, after he’s born, writing an entry to him has been one of the first things that I do in the hospital.
Over the last year, I’ve grown tired of writing to them by hand (who writes by hand anymore?) and I’ve come to realize that they won’t be able to read my sloppy English when I finally give them these journals some day! So, I’ve started typing my entries and taping them into the books.
Last night, when Matan came to say goodnight, he discovered my little secret. He sat with me, asking me what I was doing. When I explained the project to him, he giggled and said, “Wow – you’ve managed to keep this secret from me for 9 years?! Good job Mommy!”
I didn’t let him read any of the entries, but we had fun browsing through the five books and looking at the dates. He asked me when he’s going to receive his book. I haven’t given this too much thought, but I figure I’ll either give them to the boys when they enter the army or, more likely, when they get married.
While I’ve diligently created a baby book for each boy, these books only chronicle their lives until they are five. It’s been a very strange feeling to put three baby books up on a higher shelf, retiring them from use.
My journals, however, will continue to fill slowly and surely through the years, as my love for my boys grows, changes and expands in so many ways. I hope that I’m capturing a small iota of the love that I feel for each of them, and of the hopes and aspirations that are so wrapped up for us in each of these little men.