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.

My husband has planned our family vacation ever since our kids were preschoolers. He spends hours at the computer, searching for options that include the primitive and the exotic, the read-a-book-on-the-beach and the visit-a-museum.

This year, like the previous three, his task is complicated by the summer commitments our three teenagers have already made - and I wonder if the effort is worth it. We have a 15- and 17-year old at home, both busy with work and community activities. Our 20-year-old accepted an internship on the other side of the state and is planning several rendezvous with college friends.

But all three want to do something - together - so I stand in front of the nine photo collage frames that decorate our basement walls for inspiration. They're hung in chronological order and beg me to relive adventures in mountains, cities, and amusement parks. The kids' physical changes are the most evident--height, hairstyles, glasses, contacts, braces on and then off--but I focus on their smiles. They range from the wide-open outburst of the preschooler who couldn't believe how big Shamu was, to the mischievous grin of the 10-year-old who led us down the steeper of two mountain trails, to the slightly-embarrassed grimace of the high schooler who's been seen with parents.

I imagine the three of them thirty years from now, reminiscing about Junior Ranger badges, calamari, the California Screamin' roller coaster, and the long, hot walk from Jefferson Memorial to Lincoln Memorial. There are bound to be multiple versions of the same memory - just as there are for my husband and me and our siblings about the vacations our families took in the 1970s. And those images convince me to grab the calendar and join my husband at the computer.

Journal Entry: Write about a trip or vacation from your childhood. What do you and your siblings or parents still laugh about? Describe the experience as you remember it and then, again, as others remember 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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