A mother’s words have remarkable power to breathe life into us and shape who we are. That’s what Alexandria DeRose discovered when she was very young and found something her mother had written about her.
“When I was a little girl, I found my mom’s old journal,” Alex said in an interview with Aleteia. “She was writing about how this baby brought her so much joy. It shaped how I thought of myself.”
Now Alex is the mother of four young children herself. She never forgot the thrill of happiness and love that came from knowing what her mother had written about her, and it inspired her to do the same thing for her kids.
“When I became a mom, I bought this journal and wanted to document my experiences as a mother,” she said. “Literally the day my oldest was born, I started writing in it.”
She started with recording basic milestones in a “baby book” format and progressed into writing down beloved memories of her motherhood. She kept that same notebook for 8 years, eventually filling over 300 pages.
When she finished it, she had each page laminated and spiral bound. And of course, she started a new journal.
Keeping a motherhood journal has become a deeply treasured and important part of her life, so much so that she encourages other mothers to start one too on her popular Instagram page.
Easier than a baby book
A motherhood journal is different from a baby book in several important ways.
A baby book has slots for moms to fill in specified milestones. So if you don’t remember what day your baby learned to clap or you forgot to take a picture of baby’s first Groundhog Day, you’re out of luck and there’s an awkward blank spot in the book.
With a motherhood journal, you choose exactly what you write down and when. There’s no pressure and nothing to remember, except whatever brings your heart joy. It’s so blissfully uncomplicated.
Another advantage of a motherhood journal is that you can start it any time. With a baby book, you pretty much need to start at birth, or earlier! Many baby books include a section to fill out during pregnancy. But a motherhood journal can start when your kids are any age. No pressure.
I asked Alex in our interview: “My oldest is 7, and I’m a little sad I didn’t start something like this when he was a baby. Is it too late?”
“You can start any time!” She encouraged me. “You’re always that child’s mom and you still have those memories. You don’t have to do it from day one like me.”
An act of joy
Alex’s favorite thing about the journal is how it lifts her mind from the daily hustle and bustle to really see and appreciate her motherhood journey in its totality. She is able to appreciate the little joys and incidents of each day when she pauses to write about them.
“The act of journaling about your motherhood really brings you to the present,” she said. “The work you’re doing as a mom, it can feel like no one sees it. It’s this hidden vocation. The act of writing it down becomes a beautiful way to remember it.”
She encouraged moms to take 15 minutes during nap time and write down the things that brought joy that morning. Or find a time to journal every week. “It becomes so therapeutic,” she said.
I found Alex’s work through Instagram, but she isn’t a long-time Instagram influencer. In fact, she wasn’t on Instagram at all until early 2020 when she left her work as a nurse-practitioner to become a stay-at-home mom.
When she joined Instagram to connect with other moms, she felt drawn to share her story of “joyful motherhood.” Keeping a motherhood journal is one way she’s found to embrace the joy of motherhood.
She cited a quote she loves, “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”
“I love that, and my motherhood journal helps me realize that. It gives that gift of observation for the behind-the-scenes work that only we get to see. Writing it down makes it so much more profound. You don’t always realize the significance of them. But those small things that only we get to witness are such important work.”
If you’re a pregnant mom or new mom, maybe skip the baby book and create a motherhood journal instead.
And for those of us with older kids, I don’t know about you, but I’m heading to the paper goods store for a pretty journal after speaking to Alex. I hope to write down loving memories that will breathe life and joy into my kids, just as Alex’s mom did for her.