While my mother died, three years ago, I taught a Mother-Daughter Journal class.
I was inspired by Meredith and Sophie Jacob’s Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal for Girls and Their Moms (Chronicle Books). As in so many things, the Jacob women began this because of a need. In third grade, Sophie had a crush on a boy, wanted advice, but was intimidated about asking. She did anyway, in one quick breath, in one long scary moment. Her mother, however, was involved in something on her computer, wasn’t paying attention. By the time she focused on her daughter, Sophie had lost courage. Her solution? Sophie grabbed two gel pens and a journal and the idea was born and it helped them countless times as they grew.
I remembered how my daughter I shared oodles of conversations when she was in elementary school, and those slowed when she entered middle school and highschool, how I missed them. I envied how the Jacobs had established a form of communication that bridged and eased the years when daughters individuate and mothers experience that curious mix of pride and loss. I wanted other mother-daughter pairs to have this gift and saw too how this could be an incredible family treasure years later.
As so often happens, I didn’t realize I was teaching so I could learn. Before my mother died, right before my class started, my daughter was far away in Saigon. I asked her if she’d do a test run of some prompt question I planned to use. Then my mother had her heart attack and began to die and my daughter’s words became an affirmation of our loving bond and comforted me more than I could have known. I was thrilled with her answers to questions I posed: List 10 things you know about your mother/daughter. List 5 things you want to know. During my class, I had as much fun making up new questions as my attendees had answering them and hearing my daughter’s take.
Then there came a point during the class when I wished that I had created a shared journal with my mother, before Alzheimer’s claimed her. She was a wonderful story teller and facile with writing. She had a much more difficult time communicating verbally, especially if emotions were involved, but I suspect she could have done so on the page easily.
I haven’t taught the class since her death, but am doing so in less than two weeks. When I offered it the first time, it was for mothers with young daughters, now I’m inviting participants from ages 8 to 80!
You’ll find more information on my Events Page. To register? firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/performanceSearch.jsp?performance_id=1810953&cobrand=artscenter
Hopefully the class will go. I find it hard conveying its magic and the short description hardly does it justice. But I’m hoping mothers and daughters sign for this 4 week summer adventure, please recommend it to friends who might love it.
Since the time of my first class I notice there are new journals that have been published. I can’t speak to their quality, but all of them seem intriguing to me. The books below may initiate adventures and inspire shared writing. If you try one, do let me know what you think!