I've always thought about my future life with a family. When I was 10, I would dream about being married to my first love, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (still love you, JTT!), and handing down his impressive head of hair to our kids. When I was 16, my high school sweetheart and I mapped out what our future would look like and where we would live. And now that I'm married, I blissfully dream about the day my very Irish husband and I decide that we're ready for (most likely redheaded) kids. While that day hasn't come yet, I've spent the last few years (15, to be exact) working on something to hand down to my future children when I'm old and gray. And that thing is a journal.
My kids can be right there with me in those moments whenever they read them. They'll be able to learn more about me, their mom, before they ever came along.
I first got the idea while I was rewatching one of the most iconic movies from the early 2000s — A Walk to Remember. The story follows troublemaker Landon (Shane West), who's forced to spend time with the preacher's daughter, Jamie (Mandy Moore), while completing his community service. Long story short, they fall in love, but Jamie passes away after losing her battle with leukemia. Before she dies, she gives Landon her mother's journal, which has quotes from books, her favorite celebrities, and her own thoughts written down in it. One memorable quote that's inside?
"Find out who you are, and do it on purpose." — Dolly Parton
After watching that scene for the 100th time, I got inspired to do the same for my future kids. So, I bought a journal and started writing. A lot. And in the 15 years since I bought that journal, I've filled about half of it. In addition to writing down my favorite quotes and book passages, there's also my own journal entries. I wrote in it when I was getting over my first major heartbreak, the night before I graduated college, the day I moved abroad, and the night before I got married. I detail what I'm feeling, thinking, and even seeing, so my kids can be right there with me in those moments whenever they read them. They'll be able to learn more about me, their mom, before they ever came along.
I add powerful, funny, and silly quotes whenever I hear them — ones that will inspire and comfort them in times of need. If they're sad, angry, or lost, I want the quotes in my journal to give them answers or help them in some small way. I want it to be something they can always turn to.
But one of the best things I add to the journal are physical mementos. As you flip through the pages, you'll find notes given to me by my dad, concert tickets from dates with my husband, photos of me and my best friends, train stubs from European adventures, and race bibs from half-marathons I've run. I'm extremely sentimental, and every time I open my journal, I'm so thankful that I saved so many little things I would have otherwise forgotten about. When my kids read a random note that my dad gave me on a plane ride to Florida telling me I'm beautiful, they can know just how special our bond is. And when they hold the concert tickets from that weekend festival in Ireland, they can have a piece of the very first time their father and I knew we were it for each other.
While I have so many things to add to the journal, I try to take it slowly. I'm halfway through the pages, and there's still so much life left to share. I can't wait to write in it the day I find out I'm pregnant or in the days after they come into this world. I know I'll have so many thoughts, and I love that they'll be able to hear them . . . even after I'm gone.