I started keeping a journal as soon as I learned how to write.
I wrote on whatever I could find, like loose pieces of paper, pink diaries with heart-shaped locks and spiral notebooks. My wild imagination as a child resulted in the writings of my early years being full of mystical realism: half truth and half fantasy. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always, "a writer."
My parents liked to travel, and they typically brought the whole family on their exotic vacations. Before each trip my mother bought me a travel journal, which I eagerly started to fill up as soon as our plane took off. I glued ticket stubs onto the cover of each book, never wanting to forget the adventures that my sisters and I enjoyed on these family trips.
As a teenager, I composed raw, honest poetry. I felt that the short, harsh words expressed my angst more fully. Even in college I found the time to journal, to keep track of my activities in case I ever wanted to look back and remember those carefree days.
When I first became a mother, my journaling took on a different form: my daughter's activities. How much of her bottle did she drink? When did she last eat? How many poopy diapers were there today? When was her last nap? I kept track of these daily events through various iPhone apps, religiously recording her newborn activities. I felt like a shadow of my former self, lost in this new identity of being a mother.
In those early months, I was overcome with the urge to write every time I sat down in front of my open computer. At first, I felt paralyzed by the emotions that come with motherhood: love, fear, anxiety, joy, frustration, and many more. How could I even begin to record these feelings? I didn't have the words.
So, I began slowly, writing a paragraph at a time. It took months until I finally found my voice again. And when I did, I wrote my heart out. I wrote about how much I loved my daughter and how I learned from her daily. I wrote about the lack of sleep and how I felt like I wasn't myself. I wrote about how I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Suddenly I had more writing material than ever before.
With each word that I typed, I felt lighter, more like myself.
I write as much as I can now. I steal moments between my daughter's playdates and classes. I get my best writing done during her naps. The image of her peaceful slumbering body in the crib upstairs grounds me, and it is from this place that I find my voice.
Writing gifts me with so much: an outlet, creative expression, record keeping. But most of all it reminds me of this: although motherhood has changed everything, I am the same woman. Every time I sit down at my computer, I am reminded to keep doing what I love.
When asked what I want to be, my answer is still the same after all of these years: "a writer."
This blog post initially appeared on Becky's Blog.
Follow Becky on Facebook.