"I would earnestly exhort all young mothers to keep a journal in which the gradual progress and unfolding of their children's minds may be noted down. Even if they have no general views in so doing, they will derive much benefit from it; their ideas will become more collected, their plans more determined, and they will acquire a habit of thoroughly examining and endeavouring to understand whatever occurs to excite their attention."
-from "A Mother's Diary", Parents' Review, contributed by Miss Beale
Charlotte Mason advocated the use of a wonderful journal known as a "Mother's Diary" in order to keep track of a child's growth. As I continued to look into this living notebook, layers of thought and possibility began to unfold. This was not about keeping up with a baby book, photo album, or scrapbook. This was about chronicling a child's growth in such a way that the parent is drawn into the life of their child and can clearly choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in that child's development.
"I would have it a true journal, in which an account should be kept of every successive step made by the child; where every vicissitude in its health, whether mental or physical, should be registered, and where the measure of the child, in every meaning of the word, as taken at different periods of his age, should be noted down. Words, ideas, knowledge, feelings- everything in short which is either naturally unfolded in the mind, or acquired by education, should be here recorded; together with the first appearance of every endowment, and every defect, the original source of which would thus be open to our consideration."
The idea for this Mother's Diary is to have a special, designated book in which to record when your child shows development physically, mentally, or spiritually. As Mason knew, taking the time to record your observations by writing them down is a life-giving activity, a "form of vitality". Each book should be the record of one child and entries could be daily, weekly, or monthly.
I introduced this new notebook during my workshop at the CMI conference, "Parenting the Young Child: Best Practices from Charlotte Mason for a Life of Wonder". Keeping this particular notebook is one of the many important things mothers (and fathers, too!) can actively due to help facilitate the child's development before the child reaches school age (6). Keeping one of these diaries for the child's next years of life (6-12) would also be important.
I wanted to design a keepsake journal that would reflect the importance of what is housed within. This lovely version of the Mother's Diary has the look and feel of a book from an earlier time but with a fresh color and exquisite custom artwork on the cover. It is a pleasure to use and a convenient size with the feel of traditional book cloth - a delight to pull down off the shelf and write in on a regular basis. Many skilled hands were involved in the production of this version of the Mother's Diary from the custom drawn artwork by Cynthia Oswald, to the traditional hand-sewn construction and special care that went in to each individually stamped cover.
The diary begins with a dedication page repeating the beautiful hand-drawn artwork from the cover. Following that are two quotes from Charlotte Mason about the use of the Mother's Diary. Next is a letter from me that outlines how you might use the diary and finally a reverent prayer that was found in an old Parents' Review article. The prayer will help you focus when you sit down to write about your child and remind you to offer to God this holy work of raising children.
"As we cannot describe a child without relating his history, such a journal would be enlivened by the little incidents of each day, and the joys and sorrows peculiar to his age; nor would it be long before the task of keeping it would become to the mother the most interesting of employments.""The most interesting of employments" - I love that. If this is a journal that you think would be worthwhile to keep, if you love paying attention to each precious step of progress your child makes, if you don't want to forget or lose the dates or memories - then I encourage you to start a Mother's Diary.
Admiration, Hope and Love,
Available at Riverbend Press.
A Mother's Diary, Part I
A Mother's Diary, Part II
Extracts From a Father's Diary