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Writing Things Down

My mom kept detailed baby books for me and my four brothers and sisters. Not only did she fill in the blanks, she wrote all over the margins. There are lists of who came to our birthdays and anecdotes about helping fold the laundry and how we reacted to new siblings. My mom has heaps of photo albums, but she glued pictures into our baby books as well. I loved looking at mine when I was growing up, and now when I open it I appreciate it even more. Where did she find the time?!

I have a baby book for Jack and the last time I updated it was around his first birthday. And poor Molly doesn't even have a baby book. Yet. I fully intend to get around to it. Eventually.

For a long time I've brushed off my utter ineptitude at baby book updating and pointed to my blog. "It's all right there," I tell myself. "All I have to do to find out when his first tooth came in is go back to the archives! Easy!"

But who knows how long these blog things are going to last, right? Will Jack and Molly be annoyed that they have to shuffle through endless posts about my favorite television shows to get to the posts about their first haircuts and first Christmases? A blog isn't really something you can pore over and browse through. A five-year-old can't exactly pull up his mother's blog and giggle about his babyish antics the way my brothers and sisters and I amused ourselves with the baby books we just pulled out of the book shelf.

I've thought about writing letters to my kids and keeping them in a box. A lot of people do this on their websites, but I sort of think it'd be nice to have something private, just for them. Not to mention a lot of the things I'd want to write about would be entertaining only to them! I want to tell Jack how he's adjusting to Molly. I want to tell Molly how fun it is to watch her respond to her big brother. There are so many moments now that I want them to know! I wish there was a way to bottle up who they are each day.

And it's not just about wanting them to remember themselves, but wanting them to know what was happening in the world when they were small. Jack watched the election returns with us the other night, but he went to bed before Obama's speech- not that he would have understood it anyway. I thought about how my awareness of my country was vaguely wrapped around President Reagan when I was a little kid, and how my own kids' first awareness of the United States will be about President Obama. And how an African-American president will be no big deal to them. I need some place to write: you were here to see the first African-American elected president of the United States! And everyone in your family was emotional watching him speak, even the ones who didn't vote for him.

I want to tell them about the economy, the city we live in, what kinds of clothes we're wearing, the foods they like to eat, our house, what their dad does at work. I know how much I loved reading about those things in my own baby book, and how special it is to get a feel for what the world was like when I was born. But then I am totally overwhelmed at how long it would take me to write it all down (and by HAND!) and I turn to the blog instead.

But being too impatient to write things down by hand is a sorry excuse for depriving my children from the fun and future reference of baby books. I really want my kids to have them, even if they aren't as detailed and filled out as I want them to be. If only so I can make sure the potty training pictures are there for permanent, embarrassing posterity.


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