Today I’m down to the last two or so pages of a journal. The book is pink and there is a sticker of a white bird on the cover. I don’t know who put it there. A pencil attaches to the book via an elastic band. It’s about 6 inches high, maybe. Almost 300 pages.
It sounds easy. I mean, I’m a writer. It’s one sentence each day. And, I picked my husband…this wasn’t like an ‘Ode to Snails’ assignment..so what was the problem? We were both in stressful situations. My husband had a very demanding job. I had four young children. One of those children was being treated for leukemia and I spent a great deal of time at Hopkins. I had to make schedules for childcare and carpooling to sports for the others. When we were together there was only time for business — which child had to be at what place, when, and which parent was supervising.
So, yeah, not feeling real lovey-dovey. Instead, feeling like the other person didn’t know how hard our days were. But, we were committed to the idea of family. So, I started the journal. Some days I was really stingy. Fellow teachers and writers — you know what I’m talking about. A student turns in a paper and the best you can come up with is, “Wow. That paper you used was really white and the ink was really black.” Or, “I like how you stapled the paper at a 45-degree angle per MLA guidelines.” I wrote the equivalent in the book and marked it off my daily list.
At first, angry at the present, I sifted through the past to find things to appreciate — even going back several years at times. But, it got easier. I hunted for ways to thank my husband and appreciate how much effort and work he was pouring into keeping everything running.
When I gave him the journal I thought I was done. He handed it back to me. He wanted it filled up. So I kept on writing. Not every day. But, instead of skipping the days when I was angry, frustrated, or disappointed, those were the days I challenged myself to write something REAL. Something generous and full of love. THANKSGIVING.
Please don’t think I’m telling everyone to go out and buy a pink journal, although I’d be interested to hear if anyone does start any kind of gratitude list (Valentine’s Day is coming…) This pink journal didn’t make our marriage better or change our lives. My attitude — a combination of pride and ‘what have you done for me’ changed. And that made all the difference.
We’ve been out-of-sync lately. Not smooth. New stresses in our lives. I’ve been writing in the journal. I’ll start another one. Because I don’t want to lose perspective. I don’t want to ever forget to value my husband. He’s amazing and resourceful and will help anyone who asks.
If I could just make him a fan of Dr. Who, we’d be set….