Getty Images/Seth Joel
Mothers. We are forever finding ways to beat ourselves up about something we did or didn’t do for our children, whether it’s a big or small something.
My friend Jill just recently came out with a wonderful baby book, When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family. As I admired her handiwork, I confessed that the subject brought up pangs of maternal inadequacy. I never made a memory book, and with two kids, now ages 14 and 20, it’s probably not going to happen.
Apparently, it runs in the family.
When I was a kid, I remember digging through our giant box of family photos and finding a memory book buried in the mix. I opened it to discover that most of the pages were blank. I asked my mom what the deal was, and she told me, “We were too busy loving you to keep track of everything!” I was an a cherished and doted on only child. My parents saved all my artwork, baby shoes and the like, but still, I would have liked to see my youth annotated and immortalized. I vowed that I would fill out such book when I had my own kids. Well, ha to that…
J’s first word was ball. He took his first steps at 13.5 months; I remember the first items of clothing on his tiny body, dinosaur onesie and pale yellow sweater.
S started her drunken sailor walk at 10.5 months; her first word was dog, and at barely two years of age, she could put together a puzzle like nobody’s business. I remember it well, but so many of the other things? Not so much. I honestly don’t recall the exact age they where when they cut their first teeth, or really put that little plastic potty to use. Too bad I didn’t write it down.
Does that make me a bad mother?
I adore my kids, really, I do. And I am very sentimental. I have kept most of their various diplomas, awards, random cute shoes, stacks of lovely scribbles that then turned into real artwork, book reports, school papers, graduation programs, and all that good stuff. I savor the whole experience of motherhood (well, most of it); it’s just that I don’t carry it out in an organized fashion.
While I’m at it, I never photographed my children wearing the same giant t-shirt from kindergarten to college to mark and marvel at their growth, (thanks Internet, for reminding of all of the other adorable things I never did for my children). I never wrote a loving letter to each of them on their birthdays with the intention of handing over a ribbon wrapped bundle on their 21st, but I meant to. I did take pictures of them on most first days of school; I’m not sure where all of those photos actually are, but they are most certainly not in a memory book.
Part of me wishes that I was that scrapbooking mom, who has a clearly marked, brightly colored books for each year of her children, but I know that I am not.
After many years, I compiled their first photo albums from sonogram to about the age of 10, but now that we rarely print out photos anymore, heavens knows what kind of evidence they’ll have of their tween and teen years beyond what’s trapped in mom and dad’s phone and Facebook. If they complain that there’s not more information, I’ll just use my mother’s line, “We were too busy loving you to keep track of everything!”
How do you keep track of your family memories? Please share in the comments below.