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Telling the Story

My guy pal Graham recently started a blog of his own. As a full-time stay-at-home dad to daughter Elisabeth, Graham’s on my email list for all my Focus Group questions, and he’s often got nuggets of organizational wisdom that I quickly adapt as my own. I sometimes even give him credit for the ideas.

Graham launched his blog as a way to record Elisabeth’s cute sayings and doings; as a place to reflect on parenthood and what it’s teaching him; and as a sounding board for exploring new ways of teaching and learning (he’s a former public school teacher).

I’ll eagerly be turning to his site for book recommendations and examples of discipline and teaching methods that work; I’ve seen him in action and his parenting is thoughtful, researched, deliberate, and instinctive all at the same time. I’m glad he’s passing on what he discovers as a parent; we all need whatever help we can get!

But it was his comment about wanting to document Elisabeth’s daily life that struck a chord in me. I started 1M2A for largely the same purposes he outlined: I wanted to pass on the research I’d worked hard to gather, and give new mommies a leg up on all this overwhelming mommy stuff. I knew I’d use Maddie’s daily life in my blogs for illustrations of something specific, say, sleep training or starting solid foods. What I didn’t count on, though, was this website turning into a priceless written documentary of Madeleine’s early life.  

Every night I sit down and write what’s in my heart that day, and I’m amazed at the times I simply want to sit and write about how much I love Maddie: I’m tempted to devote entire blogs to the enchanting way she turns her wrist over, or her adorable snuffles while she sleeps.

I try to keep the blog from the mommy point of view – how Madeleine’s affected my life, what I’ve found that works in a situation like nursing in public, whatever. This was never meant to be a blog about Madeleine but rather, my life with Madeleine. And I’ve had plenty of nights in front of the computer when I’ve wanted to write of my feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and drowning under the sheer sea of need my daughter sails on.

But as I look back through my previous posts I find small moments in her life that I’ve already forgotten. She’s been crawling and cruising so expertly, for example, that I’d nearly forgotten how she used to scooch backwardsto get places until I saw it in my notes. And I can’t believe her brief stint of speaking in different foreign tongues almost slipped my mind!

I see, also, the overarching frame of my first year of motherhood. I’ve gone back and re-read my first few entries and yep, it’s true about Mommy Amnesia: I’d totally forgotten much of my despair and fatigue and feelings of being so incredibly overwhelmed. I also noticed that every few months or so a blog entry pops up about my unwillingness to see her get any older, my sadness at losing her babyness. I’m already starting to grieve for her one-year birthday and it’s still over a month away! So there’s comfort in seeing that I’ve gotten through it before and will do so again.

Besides, I see that it just keeps getting better and better.

In today’s computer age keeping a diary couldn’t be easier. Simply sitting down at your computer and typing a few notes into a Word document every night before checking email is much faster than having to write it out, and you’ll have those little memories that add up to big pieces of your life. I also keep a journal near my nursing station for jotting down one-liners that won’t mean anything to anyone but me; I’ve got it divided up by ages, and on my “At the Hospital” page it says, “Rabbit Ears!!!” Nothing more, but I know exactly what it means and don’t want to forget. The journal is my cocktail napkin collection of small tidbits I want to keep but never have a place to get them down.

So you don’t have to go fancy and start a blog, though I guarantee you the grandparents will thank you for giving them the online glimpse into your child’s daily life. But I encourage you to find some way to remember the small things of your baby’s days. Recording when he rolls over is great, but so is remembering the first time he peed in your face during a diaper change. And the sweet smile on his face right afterwards. You don’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time; I’m a big believer in enjoying life the first time around rather than spending all your time behind the video camera recording it. But finding those few moments to record those fleeting bits of your baby’s day will be so sweet when you look back on them.

We are the authors of our children’s lives. They are our blank slate upon which we write, and we hope we’re not making too many mistakes since it’s in permanent ink. We are the oracles of our kids’ futures, steering them and shaping their choices. But we are also the narrators of our children’s past, the storytellers of their saga.

Record this journey. You’ll want to remember it, I promise.


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