Friday, February 4, 2022

Writing a Memoir

I’ve started working on writing a memoir. A story about our family, especially when the kids were small. We have about twenty years of lists written down of funny, sweet, amazing things the kids said, which we call “Kids’ Lists.” We’ve shared these with our families, and I’ve posted some on my blog.


We’ve talked for years about me writing our story, since we have an unusual family. I am blind, and I was a stay-at-home mom for nine years. We have five kids, four disabled, three adopted from Taiwan.


Everybody’s grown and on their own now, so this seemed like a good time. I have a heap of old journals and letters and emails to read through. I’ve barely begun.


I’ve been looking through old emails and some of the spotty journals I’ve kept over the years. It’s been interesting, sometimes sad, sometimes funny reading.


The journal I’ve read so far was from the middle 90s, when most of the kids were pretty small. I wrote very honestly about my thoughts, some sad things, my insecurities with my disability, my doubts about myself as a wife and mother and Christian.


I know most families struggle, but I cringe at some of the things I wrote about Murray and me arguing, mean things I said to the kids. Reading through my journal makes me feel teary, seeing some of the times when I struggled with depression, some of the stress and strain we were under in our marriage with a bunch of small children.


I worried if this is the kind of memories the kids have of their childhood, when what I remember is how much I loved staying with them at home.


I mentioned to my daughters about the sad things I found in the journal, and Sarah said it was probably okay that I had that hard stuff written down, that I was maybe using the journal as a way to deal with the sad thoughts I had, an outlet.


Rebecca said with a journal, a person might write mostly during hard times, using it to vent. She said during good times, we’re just busy being involved with what we’re doing. Some good advice from my adult daughters.


I did find so many wonderful memories. There were times when the kids showed their great faith in Jesus, even when they were so young. I’ve found sweet notes Murray and I wrote to each other, and other fun stories that weren’t written in those kids’ lists we’ve read a lot over the years. I read cute and hilarious things the kids did, great questions they asked.


I mentioned in my journal about my hopes to be a writer. I’d wanted to write since I was a teenager, but didn’t have time to do it when I worked and raised the kids. I said I’d write again when I retired. But this shows how in the really busy years when I was staying at home to take care of little children, I was still thinking about it, including some fiction pieces I wrote right in my journal.


A possible title for our story I’ve talked about with my kids for years is “Seven Around the Dinner Table.” Other titles: “No Family Like Ours,” “Memories of Grace,” and “Showers of Beauty.”


Recently, I’ve considered “A Big Ol’ Goofy Family.” This is an idea I got from “It’s a Big Old Goofy World” by John Prine. Murray and I picked this as “our song” after almost 34 years of marriage.


In the memoir, I want to focus on the good, funny, fun things. The truth is, we were not perfect parents. But the good things I’ve recorded are also true.


I can’t change any bad memories the kids have of their childhood, but I want to offer this book as a gift for all of us, good memories. The truth is, we loved the kids so much, and we wanted to help them grow up to be kind and capable people who love Jesus.


I still have many old documents to go through. I’m finding fun things I didn’t remember, information about the adoptions, and I have so much more to go through. What a sweet, eye-opening journey this is proving to be. 


  1. Wow, Kathy, this sounds like an amazing undertaking, but also a labor of love! How fortunate you are to have all those memories to go through. Even though some bring tears and regret, I'm sure there are many more that bring laughter and joy. May God bless you as you work on this project. My favorite title: "Seven Around the Dinner Table." Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Patti. That's probably my favorite title so far too.

  2. Hi Kathy,
    Savor the journey! God has been planning this project for your to take on and it seems the timing is right. All of your titles sound fun but I like Seven Around the Dinner Table, No Family Like Ours, or Our Big Goofy Family for starters. I always thought it was fun to think up titles. I'd lay in bed at night and think and think until God confirmed the perfect title. I never searched the Internet to see if anyone else had that title. I think that's one of the suggestions. LOL.
    I'm so happy you have started to look through your journals.

    1. Thank you, Amy. Titles have never been my favorite thing to do, but I do like Seven Around the Dinner Table. It might have been my son Benjamin's idea.:)

  3. Quick idea -- this sounds so much like a group project. I wonder if you could talk Murray and the kids into writing pieces of it. Or to look at a chapter and then tell you how that went down from their POV.