Most of the time when I travel for work, I download a few episodes of “Sex and the City” to watch on the airplane. It’s familiar, it’s funny and it’s basically forbidden at our house so long as I don’t want the preschooler racking up classroom frowny face stickers for inappropriate language.

When I flew back from Vegas in February, I realized too late that my phone was at max capacity with photos and kid videos (#momproblems), so I only had room for one episode, the episode where Carrie can’t come up with anything to write about and begrudgingly agrees to accompany Charlotte to a motivational speaker, with the promise that she “might get a column out of it.” (An aside: In this same episode, upon realizing that her friends don’t always read her weekly stories, Carrie remarks, “Wow, even my friends find me irrelevant.” I had the same feeling sitting in church on Sunday when my husband remarked during the sermon that he’d never heard the word “commiserate” and I told him, glaring, I’d used it quite recently in one of my blog posts. He shrugged. But I digress.)

That sentence popped in my head as I stood in my driveway the other night, thinking about writing and the stories I share, while watching my kids play a game they’d invented with a basketball, a slide and a trampoline (ending, surprisingly, in no stitches): “You might get a column out of it.”

It pretty wells sums up how I feel about life around here–sit back, watch, listen, occasionally referee, and the script will emerge. When people tell me they enjoy something I’ve written, I typically respond that my kids are funny and I just report out.

They elicit a bunch of other emotions as well. And I write about most of them.

A few years ago, around baby #3, I made a subconscious decision—that eventually became a conscious choice—to chronicle our day-to-day life in semi-public fashion. A few weeks ago, the oldest, after being told how much I make at this side gig, asked why I do it. In the moment, I said something brilliant like, “I don’t know, because it makes me happy” and left it at that.

But it’s far bigger. And I think the real “whys” are almost universally applicable, whether you consider yourself a writer or not. They’re human, if that makes sense.

What I should have said was….

It’s because I almost always feel better after having written, and someone almost always tells me they feel better after having read it.

It’s because there’s a lot going on and I worry, even at 37, that I’m forgetting and I don’t want to and so I need a backstop.

It’s because, kiddo, someday when I’m gone, you might want to look back and read all this stuff and know for a fact how much I liked you guys and your dad and our life and life in general. I want you know that I knew you. Really well. Even if it didn’t always seem like it and it wasn’t easy and I yelled too much and there was a bunch to work through.

After my mom died a few years ago, I found a card in a box that she’d sent to my grandparents, thanking them for clothes they’d bought me but also talking about having the carpets cleaned and hosting a party and getting ready to eat pizza with our family friends and remarking that she hoped it didn’t get cold again “because I doubt that I will ever be able to put a winter coat back on Jessica.”

Every day stuff that I’m sure seemed insignificant at the time but, in a strange way, goes beyond the “I love yous” in the stacks of other cards and books I have from her, because those are the types of things moms say about their kids. Those are the little details about your personality they know. Nobody else in the world will say that about you when you’re four. Only a mom.

My “cards” these days are, of course, Facebook and blog software and Instagram. But despite the medium, the purpose–stated or not–is similar. Yes, I “get a column out of it,” this life I live with a super decent guy and our kids. Every single day. But what matters is what they get out of it, down the road, these snippets of our world that I do my best to capture. What matters is what I hope it means to them, particularly when I’m no longer here to share and remember and interpret. 

That’s why.

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Jessica Rettig

Jessica Rettig lives, works and, after years of being told to do so (she has a sneaking suspicion it was to make other parents feel better about their own chaos), documents daily life (at Facebook.com/fivelittlelunatics) with her husband, Brad, five kids—Keaton Amelia (11), Hutton (6), Rustyn (5), Joey Michele (2) and the baby, Roosevelt-- and emotionally-challenged Weimaraner in Lincoln, Nebraska. She also tries to run away on a daily basis--usually four or five miles--but she always comes back.

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