Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.
When our oldest was a baby, I read parenting books religiously, especially the ones that chronicled a child's development on a month-by-month basis. Every 30 days, I knew I'd learn something about Nathan and my evolving role as his mother. But best of all, I knew I'd be rewarded for the way I was doing things.

I was pretty proud of the ease with which my husband and I had successfully fit him into our lives, so I smugly bypassed the author's comments on "Surviving the First Six Weeks," "Not Getting Things Done," and "Not Being In Control" and focused instead on "Enjoying The First Year" and "Raising A Super Baby." I was reading Chapter 13, The Tenth Month ("Will he still be nursing when he's ready for kindergarten?" and "Should I spank?") when our nine-month-old woke up in the middle of the night, crying.

At first, I didn't want to think anything was wrong. For the past week, Nathan had had trouble falling asleep on his own, and we'd taken turns sitting beside his crib until he fell asleep. The book called it separation anxiety, and I wanted to believe it. We followed the author's suggestion to "Let him cry. He'll learn how to go back to sleep" as long as we could, but after an hour, I gave in and tiptoed to his room.

It wasn't separation anxiety: the whites of Nathan's eyes were red, and a crust of mucus clung to his eyelashes. It was pink eye.


This wasn't the only time I misjudged my response to one of my children's needs based on comments from an expert, but I continued to read parenting books and magazines for several more years. They offered another perspective and were sometimes easier to digest than those of my family and my circle of moms.

Journal Entry: What "experts" do you look to for advice about your child's development? How much do you base your parenting on another's successes or failures? Write about a time you appreciated receiving a piece of advice from either a book or an individual.

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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