As a parent in 2018, it’s easier than ever before to preserve memories of our kids. We carry devices in our pockets that can (and do) capture thousands of images of them. We take video clips of their precious voices and ridiculous dance moves, and share their “firsts” and their best quotes on Facebook.
But recently I’ve wondered whether the thousands of disparate parts add up to an in-depth picture of who our kids are. My memory is terrible, and I have this nagging fear that this whole phase of life with small kids will just be one huge blur. Even if I write down all the major milestones (which I’ve done at best a half-assed job with), there are countless aspects of life with my kids that are so commonplace, it doesn’t occur to me to make a note of them. I’m sure I’ll always remember them.
But then my husband will make a comment about that period when my son insisted on bringing every single stuffed animal from his bed downstairs with him each morning… and I stare blankly, genuinely unable to remember that at all. And it scares the crap out of me to think that parts of this insane but beautiful life are slipping away from me.
You’d think that with a parenting blog this would be a non-issue for me. But a lot of my posts are along the lines of “I love my kids but…” – venting about the hardest parts, written during the darkest moments. They are my outlet, my attempt to connect with friends and strangers dealing with similar issues in a show of solidarity. But they largely fail to capture my kids’ idiosyncrasies and paint a full portrait of who they are.
So it’s time to get it on record.
To my first-born, I’ve never written about how at the ripe old age of 3 you decided you no longer liked “trains with faces” (sorry Thomas!), and are only interested in videos/models/books/shirts with real trains (but *not* the Union Pacific, your train nemesis). I’ve never written about your old soul, how you wish you lived through the age of steam engines and want to donate your money – “ALL OF IT” – to the restoration of the Western Maryland steam locomotive.
I’ve never written about your deep kindness and compassion, the way ask your little sister where it hurts so you can kiss her boo boo.
I’ve never written about your amazingly intense rock face and how you call Joan Jett “weally wock and woll… but not as wock and woll as Bon Jovi!” (the bar against which you compare all musicians).
I haven’t written about how you hate movies that are even remotely scary, but do your crazy maniacal laugh when the bad guy gets his comeuppance.
And my precious Peanut, I’ve never written about how you call out “hug!!” every time you see a stroller, apparently wanting to smother each passing baby with love.
I haven’t written about how you babble to yourself, sometimes listing -out of the blue – the names of people you love (which occasionally includes all the members of the Paw Patrol).
I haven’t written about how you smile at every stranger who passes, rendering it impossible for them not to smile back. Or how I can already tell you’re a social butterfly, insisting on attention from every server, every time they pass by, on those rare times we’re crazy enough to eat out.
I’ve never written about how you start shaking your hips the second a Meghan Trainor or Taylor Swift song comes on, and how you crack Papa and I up as you you run laps through the house screaming like a maniac after dinner.
Maybe those aren’t things the world cares about or needs to know. But I need to capture these details about the amazing little ever-changing humans I created before they slip out of my Swiss cheese brain.
Some parents are much better than me about documenting these kinds of things. But if you’re in the same perpetually-frazzled-and-always-a-step-behind boat as me, consider taking the time NOW to get it down on paper: the picture of your kids through your eyes.
In the 20 minutes tonight that you’d otherwise be scrolling through Facebook, sit down and write your kids a love letter. Describe their quirks and their funny habits, the little details you love that you don’t want to forget.
It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. It doesn’t need to be for public consumption.
But more than a professional photo session of the family running through a field of wildflowers… more than the Facebook memory in 5 years reminding us how chubby our little one’s cheeks were… I think our heartfelt words about our children might be the most meaningful reminder of this moment we could hope for.