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.

Karen, Mary, and I moved to a small community in northwest Iowa within two years of each other. Each of us had young families, but none of us worked outside the home. Yet, we knew there would be times we'd want to participate in an older child's school activity, work out at the gym, work on a project, or run errands by ourselves, without the company of our preschool-aged children. We didn't realize how challenging it would be to find a babysitter.

Daycare providers weren't interested in "drop ins" and college students' schedules never seemed to match our time slots. So, we formed a babysitting cooperative and decided to "popsicle stick" with each other and five other stay-at-home moms.

For a $3.00 membership fee, co-op members received 30 Popsicle sticks and a membership list. When daycare was needed, we made the necessary arrangements using Popsicle sticks for currency: one Popsicle stick for ½ hour of childcare for one child. Two children cost 1 ½ sticks per ½ hour; three children, two sticks per ½ hour. Babysitting services were completely voluntary and members always had the opportunity to accept or refuse a request.

I was part of the co-op for three years and never felt imposed upon, nor felt that I imposed on others when I called for a babysitting favor. My preschoolers enjoyed playtime, I had an hour or so to myself, and my money stayed in my pocket.

But the best thing? I knew my children were being cared for by another mom who was in the same child-rearing stage as I and who held similar values. We "popsicle sticked" so many times that a couple of those women became surrogate moms to my children -- and have remained so during my kids' elementary, middle, and high school years.

Journal Entry: Do your kids have a surrogate mom? Are you one? How did you develop the relationship? Write about a time your child relied on another mom--maybe it was for advice, for getting into a locked house, or for an overnight stay--and describe the circumstances that led up to the incident.

Karna Converse 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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