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.

From the Literary Mama Archives
Creative Nonfiction

Third Baby
By Katherine Suzanne Harris

I have been feeling it lately; 38 years old and I want a third baby. I thought I had wrestled my impractical desire to the back burner; I even did a ritual where I passed it out of my hands and into the hands of an imagined verdant mother goddess with dreadlocks. She was stirring pots on the stove and there was my bubbling, burning want in a blue pan on a back burner, simmering and taking care of itself. I'm not sure what happened in that cosmic kitchen. I tried to let it go and, for a while, I did.

I've begun to do things I couldn't when I had a child still crawling around the house: I go to spinning at 6am once a week. I go to Weight Watchers. At a tortoise pace I lose the baby weight. I tolerate working a bit more at my job as a labor and delivery nurse to make a dent in the debt. My three-bedroom house is enough. I don't want a minivan. Practically, I understand that I should really give up the dream of a bigger family and the years of not sleeping. Both my husband, Rob, and I are very tired, but I still want another baby. We have two amazing children, girls aged three and six. They are so alive and marvelous. I want more.

Now I wish it had "just happened," maybe with a little lazy birth control, but it didn't. Instead I've told the entire world that I want a baby and he doesn't.

Read the rest of Katherine's essay here.

Journal Entry: Reflect on your childhood dreams about motherhood. How many children did you dream of having and why did you choose that specific number? Now, consider your present day family. How did you know (or how will you know) when it's complete?

An update from Katherine about her essay:

How did I get to a place where I am OK not having that third baby? Actually, I realized it was eating me up. When I talked about it in therapy, my therapist noticed I always said third "baby." Why not child? Hmmmm. I wanted the blissful newborn. The love was so pure and sweet, each moment enormous. I wasn't ready to never have that again. To move forward into the rough loudness of homework, car pools and back talk. Discovering I was hooked on newborn love; the confluence of hormones, leave from work and a feeling of universal motherhood embodied by all that satisfying glorious love, helped me shed a bit of light on the whopping urge to have that third baby. I also discovered, through using EFT or tapping (a simple method to help release emotional blocks) that somehow, deep in my illogical unconscious, that third baby was me. Huh? But yes. I was the third child in my family. Somehow not having that third child was a betrayal and denial of me. I didn't make any sense but when I tapped on it and released it, I felt like I was awakening from a drugged dream into my actual life.

The fact that I did not get pregnant, even though I tried and time continued to pass, helped, too. Also, I got really really sick last year and almost died, which shifted a lot in my life. That experience made me realize how swift and precarious everything is, but in a beautiful grateful way. When an ear infection freakily went into my brain, I forgot I had children, forgot my husband's name, forgot everything I was. It was, oddly, very peaceful and sweet. Everything was OK. Everything was unfolding just as it should. Once the infectious disease doctors in the ICU found the right combination of antibiotics and I was back; I was just happy to have my actual family in my head again. They are enough.

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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