I obsess over making sure that my girls know what they were like when they were little and what I was like when I was a new(ish) and cool(ish) mom and what our family was like as Brian tried to figure out how to navigate parenthood. And with January being the month that both my daughters celebrate birthdays, it also tends to be the month where I scramble to gather up the memories not only from the year prior for our family photo album (more on that in a post coming next week), but also individually for each girl so as to capture as much as I can of who they became over the past 365 days.
When both Alexa and Goldie were born, I created Birthday Books for them. Nothing fancy, just a 3 ring binder filled with empty sheet protectors where I can stash little keepsakes and mementos that otherwise would create even more clutter around the house. Holiday cards, special drawings, school progress reports- the things that I wish I had from when I was a little girl so I could imagine who I was then, or (in all honesty) things I worry I may regret throwing out but don't quite know where to file away.
But the real THING of the birthday books is a letter that I write to them each year. In one (way-too-long and completely unedited) Word document, I do my best to recap their personalities, funny anecdotes, unique adventures, milestone moments, challenges and successes and anything else that I just want to make sure is written down somewhere so it doesn't disappear.
There is honesty in each letter too- because while I know there are things I could easily keep to myself and pretend every second from the moment they were born was pure perfection, that wouldn't be fair to them. Because one day, if they become mothers, they will know how freaking hard it is, and they shouldn't feel alone in that, ya know?
There is no consistent format, no list of things I must include- like height/weight statistics or words learned or math skills mastered- rather, it really is just a stream-of-consciousness collection of thoughts, opinions and memories.
Every year, as soon as the holiday hangover has worn off, I begin thinking- and overthinking- my letters. And as such, I put off writing them.
Alexa's birthday passes...Goldie's birthday passes...and the 2018 birthday pages remain empty. Then, somewhere around, well, NOW, I talk myself off the ledge of needing to make the letters perfect and all-encompassing. It gets to the point where I just want to check them off my mental to do list. So I crank the letters out, one right after the other.
All in all, it takes about an hour- a small chunk of time to create a life-long time capsule.
Besides being something I hope Alexa and Goldie will forever treasure, it is something that I enjoy pulling off the shelf and perusing myself every so often. Because as much as these books are about them, they really are also about me. And that makes me feel less guilty about not keeping up with all my resolutions to keep a daily journal that I have made every damn year since I was like 25....
Two birds, one stone, people. The true mantra of motherhood.
Do you keep memory books for your children? Please comment below and share how you capture milestone- and just everyday- moments for your family!