By: Dean Ehrenheim
I don’t journal. Thank goodness my wife does. Journaling can capture thoughts, events, and moments in time. Along with hundreds (thousands!) of pictures, our journaled life with kids is among one of our most treasured possessions.
“Life in a house with kids tends to get busy and before you know it it’s gone. The kids pass through stages so fast. Journaling is one of our greatest family treasures. To remember those specific days and those specific snippets of way back when. I didn’t journal every day, because I was just too busy, but I am so thankful for those occasions I did,” said my wife Jeanette.
I remember spending hundreds of dollars at the hour photo when my first child was born. I couldn’t wait the 24 hours it normally took to process those baby photos. Today, I just pull out my iPhone and take a quick shot; delete it right then if it’s bad, or upload it to Facebook if it’s a keeper.
While capturing great pictures has become as easy as making a mobile call, journaling is still a bit of an art – and certainly an investment in time. But it is not one you will ever regret. If you don’t believe me, let me share a few of our favorite stories from each of our own kids as testimony. Some are serious, but most are humorous, even in a PG sort of way.
Like most good parents, we would look for opportunities to teach our kids about history. When we lived in Murray we were not far from Land Between the Lakes and the 1850 Homeplace, a historical, outdoor, working museum. My second son Trevor was about 7 when we visited the first time. Of course, he had learned his alphabet, had studied US government and been introduced to agriculture. All around Murray there were farms of tobacco, corn, soy beans and livestock (cows, pigs, etc.) However, 1850 Homeplace had something unique; Texas Longhorn Cattle. Imagine our shock when our sweet 7 year-old exclaimed, “Those are the horniest cows I’ve ever seen.” Of course we knew he was talking about the long curled horns on their heads, but…
Ok, that story was from memory, but my wife and I brought out the journals for the next.
My oldest was always older than his age. Even in grade school, he was a young adult. Probably part of being the first-born and having such challenging expectations on behalf of his parents…us. We always said God knew what He was doing when He gave us Jared first. He has been such a great torch-bearer for his siblings. After exceling in school for a number of years, his 3rd grade teacher noticed Jared’s exceptional behavior and attentiveness and nominated him for a district-wide honor. We were proud and attended the quaint evening ceremony with the superintendent, his teacher and other teachers and students of note. We were especially pleased that his teacher noticed our Jared and thought to praise him. We knew that Jared should show his appreciation and we asked him to go give his teacher a big hug, to which he replied, in as serious a voice a 3rd grader can muster, “Oh, mom, I’m not really the hugging type.” Even without the hug, we made sure she knew!
Our first born has led strong and well, despite our shortcomings. Here’s evidence. One day Jeanette asked Trevor what he wanted to be when he grew up. Trevor simply said, “Jared.”
Journals not only bring back stories, but remind us of how our kids used to act and sound. Words you may forget like “fosa” instead of “sofa.” When our youngest boy was three, Jeanette found him completely disrobed in the bathroom and asked, “Why have you taken off all of your clothes?” to which he replied, “No mommy, I not naked, I still have on my ‘wocks’.”
Even when he was just 4 years old, Jared would often be one step ahead of us. While pregnant with our third child, Jeanette recounts from her journal,
“Jared and I were talking about the baby and how it was growing each day. I explained that although the baby couldn’t see us, he/she could hear our voices. That way the baby would already be familiar with our family and know us right away…Wasn’t God smart to make it that way? Jared thought for a moment, “But the baby won’t know what we look like.” “No, that’s right; he’ll only know our voices.” Jared quickly noted, “Maybe he thinks we’re black.” (Note to reader, mommy and daddy are both Caucasian.)
We have three wonderful boys and one glorious girl. Actually, we were convinced we would be parents of 4 boys all through the last pregnancy. But God knows best how to bless. Noting the imbalance in our family, Emma asked Jeanette, “Mommy, did you want a little girl?” “Well, yes Emma I did.” “Well, here I AM!” she proudly announced.
On another day, Emma was in trouble with mommy and was sent to her room. After a few minutes, little Emma knowing she had done a grievous wrong, emerged from the room contrite with tears in her eyes and said, “Mommy, I forgive you.”
My wife and I laughed so hard re-reading the stories and stirring up the memories again. This article was a pure joy to write. We noticed that even though we remembered most of the stories, in many cases our memories were incomplete; the journals add such richness…and stitches in our sides. Of course, there are unique nuances in each family’s stories that may not translate to others, but I hope we have picked some of those that do. Being parents is a great honor.
And that’s one of the benefits to journaling. It’s easy to get frustrated, irritated, mad or disappointed with your kids. However, those are just the times to take out your journal and remind yourself of your greatest blessing…the blessing of kids.