When I was born, one of the gifts my parents received was a baby book. The baby book is called Our Baby’s First Seven Years and it gave my parents an chance to document their precious memories of me from birth to age 7. The beginning of the book is filled with lots of information about my first few years of life – vital statistics like height and weight, my likes and dislikes, my birthday parties. But once age 3 rolled around, the memories ceased. Well, my parents may have had memories of that time, but they didn’t bother recording them in the baby book. About 2/3 of the pages in the baby book are completely blank. But I can’t complain too much – at least I have a few years of my life recorded for posterity. My younger brother has the same Our Baby’s Seven Years baby book although his really should be renamed Our Baby’s First Year. Yeah, he got royally screwed in the baby book department. I used to make fun of my mom for doing such a lousy job with our baby books. I swore that I would do a better job than her and my children’s baby books would not be filled with blank pages. She would just laugh and tell me that one day when I was a parent, I’d understand.
Now I understand.
When I became a parent, I purchased the same Our Baby’s First Seven Years baby book to document the precious memories of our firstborn son. My son’s 7th birthday is Sunday. Our baby’s first seven years are coming to an end. And his baby book Our Baby’s First Seven Years is coming to an end as well. Is the baby book complete? If your definition of complete is that every single question on every single page is filled in, then no, it is not complete. There are blank spaces and blank pages. I neglected to write down things like the circumference of his head as a baby, how old he was when he first brushed his teeth, and his favorite foods when he was 4. Yes, I forgot to write down certain pieces of his life, but there’s so much more of his life that I did remember to document: prenatal ultrasound pictures, his birth story, heights and weights, milestones, personality traits, likes and dislikes, schools, birthday parties. The completed pages do outnumber the blank pages. Even though it’s far from perfect, his copy of Our Baby’s First Seven Years has more snippets of his life as a baby, toddler, preschooler and kindergartener than my own baby book does.
But now I understand.
As parents we get busy with our kids, our jobs, our lives and the baby book gets ignored. The baby book is not a priority, it is an afterthought. But it’s OK that we’re too busy for the baby book because that means we are busy spending time with our kids, creating those precious memories. Some of those memories will be captured in our photos, our videos, our blogs and, yes when we remember, our children’s baby books. The rest of those memories are locked away in our minds and in our hearts not to be forgotten. Although it is not written in my baby book that I missed the first day of kindergarten because I was sick, my mother always remembered and would often share that memory with me. Many memories of my first seven years are absent from the baby book but they are part of our family history. So whether my son’s baby book is 100% complete or 10% complete, his first seven years will not defined by how much is written in his baby book.
Yes, mom, now I understand.