Monday, September 28, 2015

Baby Books...Who Needs 'Em

I have two kids, both girls, one is 3 and the other 9. When I had my precious first baby, I had her baby book pre-filled as much as I possibly could prior to her arrival. Once she was born, I kept up on it for approximately 9 days, and then I stashed it somewhere safe so I could finish it later, when I had more time.

Of course, that never happened. The book sits quietly in its unfinished condition on my basement bookshelf, hidden among old textbooks and novels with torn covers. Every so often I'll go down there and sift around, seeing its faded yellow cover peeking at me, and the guilt will grab hold. I'll take the book down and thumb through the pages, laughing at my silly handwriting or smiling while reading a memory I'd forgotten. And then I'll flip to the last half of the book, the part where you're supposed to insert photos, real ones, on real paper, to make a short, concise timeline of your baby's toddler years. And all of those pages will glare at me blankly, chastising me for failing to write down the first time she lost a tooth, or tied her shoe, or got her first haircut. And sometimes I get that feeling in my stomach - the bad one, the one that says, "you failed." I've failed to keep an accurate chronicle of my firstborn's life so that she may one day enjoy it, perhaps share it with her own children.

So you'd think with the second kid I'd of learned my lesson. I received an adorable baby book that didn't seem too intimidating at all. Simple pages. Simple questions. Easy to fill out. Just a few pages dedicated to real photos on real paper. I could do this.

Except I didn't. I haven't. I prolly won't. Those first few pages are filled out and that's it. Done. Kaput. I didn't take notes, or keep it by my bedside and scrawl in it each time a milestone was hit, or print out a single picture. I didn't even affix the ultrasound pics. They're pressed between the pages, flattened, but safe.

I have friends with younger kids who ask me things like "when did your kids walk" and "how soon did you start feeding solids" and I just stand there, wide-eyed, reaching into my soupy brain, coming back with only clouds and rainbows. I have no idea. I really have no idea. But I make something up, something that sounds good, because the parent doesn't usually even want to know my answer, they just want to be reassured their baby isn't a whacko.

So two kids, two baby books, and a whole slew of blank, wordless, photo-less paper. My legacy? Not in those pages.

No - I've figured out my legacy, my gift to my kiddos, arrives by other means.

Take the supermoon eclipse we had last night. My eyes saw something that only happens once in a generation. My kiddo, who caught a glimpse of the eclipse at very beginning, might see something incredible like that again, but I will not. And maybe my excitement, or my attention, is my legacy.

Mom showed me what a supermoon is. And man, you shoulda seen her face. She was so excited. 

She pulled me outside each time a hot air balloon puffed across the sky.


She taught me her secret french toast recipe.

I have no idea what my kid will remember about me when I'm old and gray. I hope it's not the yelling. Or the quick temper. Or the baby books I never finished.

I hope she remembers that winter I took her out into the woods just the two of us, and we trekked through the snow and I took pictures as she rolled down hills and we listened carefully as our boots plodded along the snow.


I hope she remembers sitting under the Christmas tree like I did when I was little, looking up and shifting so the only thing you could see were lights, lights, beautiful lights.


I hope she remembers watching seedlings in the spring and finding eggs in the summer and carving punkins each fall and building snowmen in the winter.

She might one day find her baby book. She might flip to those last few pages and, knowing me, they'll still be blank. And maybe she'll be sad. But maybe she'll smile.

Because maybe she'll know her mama was too busy blending spinach and bananas into juice to write down when solid foods were first consumed.

Or maybe she'll know her mama was digging through Halloween decorations instead of recording the results of the latest pediatrician visit.

Or maybe she'll know her mama was making sure the rooster was behaving around her kids instead of printing pictures.

This is what happens when roos attack my kids.
Because as much as I love to take pictures, and document, document, document, life is what happens on the other side of the lens. I will never stop taking pictures of everything because I want to remember everything...and my memory is terrible, let me tell you ("hey when did you kid start walking?" .... blank stare...). But I need to remember to step out from behind the camera lens every once in a while and be a part of the picture that's developing right in our very souls.

Maybe etching memories into our mind with experiences is just as good as etching them into books.

And perhaps traditions that start in the kitchen are just as comfortable, if not more so, than a worn album full of pictures.

And maybe, just maybe, those hours I spent staring at my babies was worth a million baby books completed to perfection. Because as crappy as my memory is, I will never forget the look and feel of those tiny hands on my cheek. That is the stuff life is made of.

What about you, dear readers? How do you create a legacy for yourself? Are you an album-lover? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading :)
Jen


5 comments:

  1. Baby books are great if you can swing it, but you're right, the experiences are worth WAY more. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. My memory for everyday life is pretty terrible--and that's why stories from my own life and stories from my parents and grandparents are so important to me. I think my most precious memories are sitting around listening to and telling stories--and then the memories contained in those stories are awesome. Real life become legend when memorialized in an oral story--I want to take the chance to start writing down some of my mom's and grandpa's stories sometime. I had a baby book, partially filled out by my mom, since I was a 1st child, ya know. And the stats are not remarkably interesting. ("I weighed how much? Wow! Thrilling!"). But the little notes from my 21 year old mom that show how amazed she was and how in love she was with her tiny person are precious to me. l have about 20 photos of the first year of my life, and probably 500 photos from the first year of my baby sister's life--that's the different between '91 and '06. I like photos, I'm glad that we can have more of them now. I've only ever seen one picture of my dad as a kid--Angel's parents have no pictures of themselves as children whatsoever. I like living in the photo generation, even if I myself don't particularly enjoy taking photos, I love to look at them. The first thing Angel does when we visit a friends home for the first time is ask if they have any scrapbooks of family photos and then we sit down and look at them together with our friends--I do have a real appreciation for books of photos (Angel does too, and he's the one brave enough to ask such awkward questions, ha!).

    Oh, p.s. the nutmeg pickles are made out of the white flesh of the nutmeg fruit--I never even knew it was a fruit till I was faced with eating it as a pickle, ha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you have a verbal record of your history - it reminds me of that movie Big Fish! I would love to have something like that in my family. perhaps I can start with my own two kids :) HAHA I love that your baby book is half-filled too.....and that your sister has a million more pictures than you do! How insane how things change!

      I also love looking at old pictures of my family. We have shoeboxes filled with them (my mom is most def an album person! She rocks at it! What happened to the gene??? hehehe).

      HAHA good to know about the nutmeg - I was so confused for a minute! I didn't know nutmeg came from a fruit either!

      Delete
  3. this makes me excited to have my own kids one day! i'm getting married soon and my future mother-in-law gave me an album/scrapbook thing to fill out with my fiance. no surprise--we've done about 7% since we got it 6 months ago. :)

    ReplyDelete