Blank. Just blank. The empty page after empty page of my eight-month-old’s baby book stared at me in accusation. Even his name wasn’t filled in. Really? Crap.
I specifically bought this book because it was supposed to be “easy.” Just a page a month for the first year. How much time could that take? Apparently too much.
Was it that I didn’t love Little Bird enough to bother chronicling his important moments? While the guilt that beats at my brain wanted that to be the right answer, I know in my heart it’s not true. I adore my children. And I’ve spent a ton of time and effort capturing their childhood. I probably have hundreds of photos of Little Bird alone, much less those with his brother.
In fact, Sprout’s baby book is pretty empty too. Much of it is filled in, but there are big gaps. In most cases, the spaces were the wrong size for our photos or the questions don’t even make sense. (What baby has a “favorite game” anyway? And neither of them can have a favorite pet because we don’t have one!)
And therein lies the problem. Our lives and those of our children are too vibrant, too full and too complex to be summed up in a book designed by someone else. We didn’t take a photo for Sprout’s first (or second or third) Valentines’ Day. However, we have a ton of him at the park. The story of Chris’ and my twelve year relationship before our kids were born can’t possibly fit in a few lines. On the other hand, I have absolutely nothing nothing to say about Little Bird’s real name. (If anything, we have more to say about the names we didn’t pick.)
The days and years are a tapestry of little and big moments, too tiny or too momentous to capture so simply. The book is static, whereas our kids are constantly growing and changing. The notes I keep in my phone of “Cute things [Sprout] has said” say more about him than his preferences at any one moment in time.
So why did I bother filling out the baby book anyway? Because I did, at least a bit.
The obvious answer is that I hate to waste something I spent good money on. There’s also the aforementioned mom guilt. Little Bird came too quickly for us to even order birth announcements – the least I could do is fill out his baby book.
But the bigger answer is that even though these books aren’t all-encompassing, they don’t have to be. They’re just a piece of the bigger record of our lives, which includes all of the photos, my notes, and even this blog. They’ll give us something nice to pull out when the kids are older and pouring through the thousands of digital photos is too onerous.
If I can allow the baby books – just like all of the other rituals – to take their appropriate place in my life rather than causing me undue stress, then they’ll serve their purpose after all.
Follow me on Facebook for blog updates! For more thoughts on my quest to let go of mom guilt, check out What I Gave Up for Christmas and Why I Didn’t Make A Sign for My Son’s First Day of School.