After my cousin had twins 4 months to the day after I had my baby girl, we were comparing gifts. Kind of like, “How many baby blankets? What’s the most hideous outfit?” Finally I ask, “How many baby books did you get?”
She says, “What do you mean “baby books?” You mean How to Expect: The First Years?”
No, I clarify, “Like a book for you to write down all the stuff. The firsts. First laugh, first foods, favorite toy. A place to put their piece of hair, footprints. Come on, you must know what I’m talking about. The kind of book you fill it in …”
“Really?” She genuinely sounds surprised. “Who has time to do that shit? I have two newborns.”
“Andrew’s baby book has every little thing written in it,” I explain about my boyfriend’s book. “It says when he did everything. For instance, we learned he started eating baby meat at 3 months old.”
So then I realized that maybe we’re just immigrant kids; maybe this is just an American thing.
I had something that I kept track for Jake, 9 years ago … but I did it haphazardly and hated it since it was so imperfect. I hated anything incomplete. I realize that of course, in retrospect, it’s better to have anything rather than nothing. I look over the notes I never typed and my scraps of paper and old receipts of his birthday at Chuck e Cheese.”
But now with my second baby, I guiltily confess that I haven’t written anything down. I got one baby book as a gift and I didn’t connect to it – all frilly and Precious Moments and not my style. [IDEA: hip, easy baby books – or what – even an ipod app.] Her dad started a list of milestones on my laptop; I made a short list of the words se says so far (mama, daddy, milk, Elmo, Big Bird, bear, up, baba [grandma in Russian], meow, moo, this, that, ball, duck, purple, blue, and a bunch of others.
I have a good friend from college who has been blogging since her daughter’s birth about 20 months ago. I’m flattered when she tells me I was her inspiration. I always went onto her site to check in on what her baby was doing because she was my friend and I wanted to know about her life – but I wondered, would people who didn’t know the baby also want to read it the particulars?
So recently I started visiting her blog for a different reason. Whenever my 9-month old (that just happened yesterday!) does something – or isn’t doing something for that matter – I go back to her blog and see what her baby was doing this time last year. This is her completely detailed virtual baby book that documents her daughter’s songs, words, skills, snacks. I was using it as a resource!
I, on the other hand, had a hard time remembering the exact time my daughter was born. (I was really tired.)
So am I a horrible mother? Does it mean I don’t love my daughter as much?
I have another friend that has a pile of papers, about 6” high with details of her son’s naps, feedings and notes from the daycare. Every minutia recorded.
I have nothing but fleeting memories.
I should definitely write more down – about her – and for her.