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.

In her book, First Mothers, Bonnie Angelo explores the lives of the 11 mothers who gave birth to America's 20th-century presidents. The book is a fascinating look at how each mom--from Sara Delano Roosevelt to Virginia Clinton Kelley--helped mold the boy into the man. Here's some of the advice they shared:

"Try not to write your signature too small as it gets a cramped look. So many public figures have such awful signatures and so unreadable."
--Sara Delano Roosevelt, in a letter to Franklin when he was assistant secretary of the navy. She was the first mother to cast a ballot for her son for president.

"You put on your fighting harness and do all you can. Now, you be a good boy, Harry."
--Martha Young Truman, in a phone call to Harry just hours after he'd taken the oath of office in the White House after Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death.

"I exercise discipline, as well as love. Provide limits, as well as freedom. I tried to tend the roots as well as the stems, and slowly and carefully plant ideas and concepts of right and wrong, religion and social implications."
--Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

"In this as in all the many letters I have written you there is the same theme: I love you; I believe in you. I expect great things of you."
--Rebekah Baines Johnson, in a letter to Lyndon when he was elected to Congress. At age 28, he was one of youngest members.

"To Richard--You have gone far and we are proud of you always--I know that you will keep your relationship with your maker as it should be for after all that, as you must know, is the most important thing in this life. With love, Mother"
--Hannah Nixon, in a note to Richard which he kept in his wallet throughout his presidencies.

"If we lost a game, I'd be downhearted. She taught me a good lesson: 'You shouldn't sit around and wring your hands. Think about the next game.' And 'Tell the truth, work hard, and don't you dare be late for dinner.'"
--Gerald Ford, about what his mother, Dorothy, taught him.

"I have always believed you ought to try like hell to take care of the things you can take care of and just let the rest of it go hang."
--Lillian Carter

"From my mother, I learned the value of prayer, how to have dreams and believe I could make them come true."
--Ronald, about his mother, Nelle Wilson Reagan, who died before he took office.

"George, I've noticed how thoughtful President Reagan is to Nancy. I've never seen him climb off a plane ahead of her or walk ahead of her."
--Dorothy Walker Bush to George, when he was Vice President .
Of Dorothy, George said: "It was about values. Give the other guy credit. Be kind. Don't whine and complain. Count your blessings. Honesty. Your conscience will be your guide."

"Be who you want to be and don't worry about what people say about you. Pretend you have confidence, even when you don't--and then you may actually get it."
--Virginia (Cassidy) Clinton Kelley to Bill.

Journal Entry: Pretend your child is president of the United States. What advice would you share and how would you share it?

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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