Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Saddest Words "If Only"

I often hear writers complain that raising children doesn't allow enough time for the writing they want to do. Having raised two children of my own I can understand that . I don't regret the time spent with my children, I would never do that, but I do regret not keeping a journal.

How many times in my life have I purchased, or even received as a gift, a diary or journal? I always had great plans for filling them with my innermost thoughts. I longed to keep a record like Jon Boy Walton, with words flowing from my pen onto the crisp white pages of my journal. Instead I put them out of sight in a drawer or closet never to be filled with penned words of any kind. Oh, on a few occasions I made a feeble start, but something always stopped me. I guess it was a lack of inspiration. Personal writers block. Now I am kicking myself with "if only".

What, in hindsight, would I have recorded on those still blank sheets? Anything. Everything.

As a children's writer I especially wish I had recorded every precious word my children uttered, and every event in their lives. I wish I had taken note of their daily struggles and problems and how they handled them. I wish I had noted how they strung words together or mispronounced some of them. I wish I had kept a record of what was important to them at every step of their development. Children are always changing and our memories seem to be altered by time and the telling of events. Over the years some of those dear memories slip away.

Open house at school would have been the perfect time to note how the classroom smelled and looked. What decorated the walls? How did the teacher look and talk? How did the children behave on the playground? How did they interact with each other?

I can always experience another crisp fall morning, or another day at the beach. Unfortunately, I can't make my son learn to ride a bike again, or my daughter lose her first tooth again. Those days are gone forever. I wish I had recorded those events while they were fresh and new.

Today I keep a small spiral notebook in my purse. When I overhear a remark made by a child, or I witness someone else's child doing something interesting, I make note of it. These little scraps of childhood aren't the same as recording my own children and their friends, but they help.

My children are all grown up now, but I have grandchildren and I am trying to record their adorable antics for my writing whenever I can. "If only" I had thought to do the same when their parents were children.

(c) 2006 Sharon A. Soffe


Joy said...


This is a great post. As a working mom of two adorable little kids, I often wish I had more time to write, more time to enjoy my children, more time period.

I'm going to use your sipral notebook idea and keep note of what my children say. I know that the rides in the car yield some of the funniest conversations I have, I'll just have to make sure I record them.

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...


I'm so glad. Some of those memories will fade with time, but the notes will be there when you need them.