One of my favorite things to do when I was a child was go into my parents’ bedroom, find my baby book, and read through what an awesome baby I was. I knew when I took my first steps, I knew my first words, I saw my first bite of food (a jar of pureed meat). My mom filled out all of the sections, even the diary part where she recorded her thoughts on the last day I was breastfed.
Because reading about my childhood was so important to me, I knew that I wanted to document as much of my daughter’s childhood as possible. I bought a baby book, a “first year” calendar, and a “mommy journal,” which has little blocks where you can jot down a few sentences a day. Growing up, I always had a habit of dedicating myself to writing a journal, and then giving it up within a month. But I’m older now, I’ve been writing for Skepchick for the past two years, and so I was confident in my ability to write down all of R’s milestones and spending a minute journaling my thoughts at the end of the day.
It wasn’t too hard at first. The “first year” calendar was really nice, because there was just enough space to write down five words a day. And I filled out all of the relevant baby book sections for the first two months of R’s life. I even filled out the “current events” section (which was full of Boston Marathon Bombing headlines).
Then, I started to lag. I forgot to record a cute thing that happened or a milestone, then I would record it a few weeks later and write down the approximate date it happened. Then I just stopped all together. I left the books out on the table with the intention of writing down stuff later, but later never came, and the longer it had been since I recorded something, the guiltier I felt. Hadn’t I loved reading my own baby books? Wasn’t I letting my daughter down since I was doing such a bad job recording all of her milestones and therefore denying her the happiness of reliving her babyhood?
So for the past few months, the baby books have been sitting on the table, unused and unupdated, taunting me, making me feel guilty for not documenting the entire precious year of my daughter.
I even stopped taking as many pictures as I used to. I started a photo project when R was born, and every week I would lay her down on the same blanket, with her favorite bunny, and take a picture. So in the end, I would have 52 pictures, documenting her first year. Everything went smoothly, until R got to the point where she didn’t want to be on her back for longer than two seconds. And instead of celebrating the fact that she was getting “so big!”, I was frustrated that I couldn’t get a good picture any longer. So I missed a couple of weeks here and there, and now I have a big backlog of unedited photos on my computer. And once R turned one, I gave up the project, with the intention of doing a monthly picture instead, but that idea was quickly discarded too.
For now, I’ve given up on having a formal documentation process. My new idea is to take a daily video using my iPad, because it’s always near me and I don’t have to edit the videos, I just have to push a button. Or rather, I just have to remember to push the button, in the 1-2 hours of time I get every day between coming home from work and R going to bed. (Sometimes that can actually be challenging.) But I don’t kick myself for forgetting a day, because it’s not like R changes that rapidly.
I still feel a little guilty because it seems like my mom was able to do so much more documenting than I am. But then I remember, I was the third child in my family, and my brothers are five and seven years older than me, so my mom knew I was her last baby and that’s probably why she made such an effort to document everything. Plus, she was able to stay at home to raise me, and my brothers were at school, so she had much more time than I do (I work outside the home full-time). Thinking back to my brothers’ baby books, I remember that she did a decent job documenting my oldest brother, but my middle brother’s documentation was a bit neglected, because my mom was so busy.
Also, when I was a kid, digital photos didn’t exist—so my mom didn’t have to worry about taking tons of photos to have one good one. She just pointed the camera and took a picture, and then there was nothing else to be done except see the photo when it was developed. So she didn’t have to worry about having the most Pinterest-y photo project. In fact, I take many more pictures of my daughter than my parents ever took of me, so in that regards her babyhood is more documented than mine. And there aren’t any videos of me as a baby, so I’m lucky to have all of my videos of my daughter.
For now, I’m documenting R’s childhood the best that I can, and all I can hope is that she is happy with what I managed to remember to save. And moving forward, I’ll try not to be so hard on myself for not being the “perfect” parent, as usual.