I think a lot lately about what I put “out there.” Annie takes everything literally. If we say we’re going to do something, we have to do it. There is no tricking her anymore. If I say I’m mad at her, I have to also act mad (that means no giggling at exaggerated pouts). I am setting an example for this child and I have to say exactly what I mean and then live it. It’s surprisingly hard.

I use sarcasm a lot…too much now, I think. Annie isn’t old enough to understand it, and lately I’ve seen her looking at Mike and me with confusion. She’s hearing our words, but not our meanings. So now I not only have to be more careful about what I say, but how I say it, too. I have to do my best to make sure she doesn’t misunderstand me.

It’s my selfish hope that one day she’ll want to read what I’ve written about my life, and because of that I try to be careful about how I tell my stories. I rarely use swear words in writing because I don’t think I need to. I sometimes break out my thesaurus because I want to use a more descriptive adjective. But, I sometimes get too caught up in the telling of the story and forget why I’m telling it. I don’t think things through and I don’t express myself the right way and things get confused. My point isn’t delivered. Things go off the rails.

I write because, despite years of denying it, I actually do like it. Telling stories is fun, and knowing that people are listening is amazing. But I am also writing for a little person who will someday be a full-grown person, and this is our written history. That’s dramatic and silly but these words really will live forever so I have to make sure they read clear.

I went to a conference last year where a speaker went on at length about intention. The gist is that we should think about the intentions in everything we do: why are we doing something, what do we want the end result to be? What are my intentions? When I was a kid I often spoke without thinking. Writing lets me take all the time I need, and yet I still lose focus and forget to write to my intention. When my written words are misunderstood, then I know I need improvement. I make notes. What can I do differently next time? How can I get better?

I need to improve my communication in all ways. There’s not a lot of room for error. My intentions are good and knowing that gives me the ability to pick myself back up after things go awry. If at first you don’t succeed. This is the example that I want to set for Annie. Try, try again.