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


Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help. Several times a month, we'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write.


I found the perfect leaf. It had fluttered down from the sugar maple and was lying in the grass, bright red and beautiful.

I called my children over to see this treasure. My 10-yr-old thought it was great. My 8-yr-old liked it well enough but then held out his hand to show me the leaf he had found. “I don’t want to be rude,” he announced, “but mine is better.” I looked at it. It was an autumn leaf—damaged, dark, and unremarkable. Yet he had chosen this one, among all the vivid yellows and oranges littering our lawn.

I held mine up, twirling the stem slowly Red Leafbetween my palms. “All the edges are intact. See? And there are no spots or tears. It’s gorgeous.” My finger traced the veins. This was an example of perfect fall foliage, the kind that people drove for miles to see. The kind they pressed between wax paper or suspended inside a floating frame.

My 8-yr-old’s had a small hole and brown spots covering the surface. One side was torn. But he said the marks didn’t matter and there was something special about this leaf. He insisted it was the prettiest one he had seen this season.

“Really? Why?”
He looked down at his leaf for a bit. “It just is.”

I stared, searching for something nice to say about it. The color, which I had dismissed before, was actually quite lovely—so dark red it was almost purple. The more I looked, the more I saw in this ordinary leaf and the more I marveled at my child’s ability to so easily see beyond the flaws.

I made a deliberate attempt to squash my habit of searching for flawlessness. I began to appreciate blemishes as a kind of beauty. I noticed my favorite coffee mug has a chip that I absentmindedly brush my thumb over every morning and my much-loved tee shirt from college is threadbare with a rip near the shoulder seam.

I’m starting to find the beauty in imperfection. Because nothing is perfect. It just is.


In your journal today, consider whether you search for flawlessness, or can you find beauty in imperfection? Is it easier for your child to overlook imperfection than it is for you?


Do YOU have a writing prompt to share with Literary Mama readers? Send your 150- to 300-word narrative and associated writing prompt to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com. We'd love to read your ideas!  

Sarah Brentyn is a geek, a mum, and a freelance writer who loves good books and good wine. She enjoys writing fiction like those people who enjoy singing in the shower. She is a contributing writer for her local paper where she shares columns about life, kids, and whatever floats her boat. Visit her at Lemon Shark. Connect with her on Twitter at @SarahBrentyn.

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Finding beauty in imperfection...yes. I think we all need to do this more. Children really are some pretty great teachers, aren't they?
Children are incredible teachers. They really are. We just need to watch and listen.
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