How do we capture these fleeting moments? Our babies grow up so fast and there are so many things we’d love to say to them, so many experiences worth remembering. Gina puts pen to paper for her little girl.
I’ve never been one for scrapbooking or keeping a baby book. I love the idea of it, but in reality, I never make the time to sit down and fill in all the milestones and dates or paste new pictures just so.
My personal blog, TheDailyB, is a great outlet for recording those moments — especially the ho-hum, ordinary-day moments that might not be considered scrapbook-worthy. It’s a place to talk about poop and sleep deprivation as well as first steps and favorite books and all our fun adventures. It’s a place to tell the stories and post the photographs and share our latest crafts. A place to remember and confess and inspire.
Even so, I’ve been blogging nearly four years, and I crave something more. Something more, I don’t know… intimate? Something that my children can look back on as adults and know that they were uniquely loved and cherished for who they were at every developmental stage.
That’s why I started writing letters to my kids and stashing them in a safe place for them to discover when they’re older. These letters are handwritten — on jagged-edge notebook paper, on construction paper, on the back of an envelope — and they reflect whatever is going on in that moment. Here’s an excerpt from one letter I wrote my daughter when she was 15 months old:
Lately, you call me ‘Mama’ more often, and it is the sweetest sound in the whole world. We were in a children’s store recently, and you were playing, totally engrossed in a toy display, and suddenly realized you couldn’t see me anymore (I was behind you) and you looked around and called ‘Mama? Mama? Mama?’ Then, once you saw me, you giggled and tried to run away. Silly girl… even though you are so little, you have an amazing sense of humor.
…We just found out this week that you will be a big sister. I think you will be so loving and sweet. You already enjoy ‘helping’ me with laundry and cooking. And you love to cuddle all your dolls and stuffed animals…
Just reading that transports me back. I can see that store’s green carpet and the way B looked, her toddler belly poking out of her shirt and her soft blond curls bouncing around her ears. I can smell the damp winter air. I can also remember how vulnerable I felt, newly pregnant with our second child… I wondered if I was giving B a priceless gift in a sibling, or was I cheating her of this special one-on-one relationship we’d cultivated?
I have to admit, there’s a darker motivation to my writing too. Though I have no logical reason to, I worry that some tragedy will separate me from my kids. I’ve seen too many examples of how fragile life is, I guess. So while I imagine my children all grown up and joyfully reading these letters with me by their side (or a Skype call away), I also want to be absolutely sure that if I’m not there, that they have an honest, clear picture of how I felt about them and what our relationship was like — Mama and child.
That’s so much of what parenthood (and life) is about, isn’t it? Tremendous joy peppered with tears. But I wouldn’t trade it, the bittersweet. I love that tension. It keeps me actively seeking the joy. It keeps me noticing things.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a letter to write.