The other day Stephen’s and my dad were watching Abby play in our living room. One asked, “Do you even remember your own kids at this age?” “Nah,” the other responded. Granted, it’s been 31 and 18 years, respectively, since they were dads of babies, so I’m sure those toddler moments are just crowded in among many other happy family memories, but I was horrified to hear this just the same.
If I can’t rely on my own memory bank, that means that my only knowledge of Abby’s childhood will be from reading these sporadic blogs, and looking back at my woefully inadequate photos and home videos. Abby will ask, “Mom, what was I like as a one-year-old?” and all I will be able to answer is, “Well, I know you made me very tired. You wore a lot of pink while you ran past/toward/away from my camera. And I seem to recall that your hair might have been blonde.”
But what about the little details? What about the fact that she said “cock-cl” instead of “clock”? What about learning to be gentle with the dogs in the back yard? What about those precious early attempts to be a helper, wiping the floor with a rag, putting wet clothes into the dryer, putting the magnets back on the fridge instead of just knocking them off? What about snuggling in the rocker before bed at night? What about the pink striped v-neck, the glittery jellies, the wild ponytails?
These little moments and details are what help me to endure the slow hours, the unpredictable tantrums, the constantly dirty kitchen floor. It makes my heart hurt to think that they’ll be lost, even if it is among many other happy memories of birthday parties, ski trips, driving lessons, and bridal showers.
I’ve tried writing a few sentences in a journal every night. But by the time nighttime rolls around, it’s hard to break the momentum of falling into bed, even for the best of those many little “it-will-only-take-a-minute” tasks (read one chapter of the Bible, wash and moisturize face, write in prayer journal, write a letter, etc.).
About a week ago I decided to try a Small Notebook journaling idea. Basically the idea is to keep a journal out all day, and record little moments between breakfast and bedtime. Done every couple of months or so, these entries provide snapshots of daily life.
Great idea, right? Except that my entries kept looking like this:
7:45 AM: Eating cereal at the breakfast table. Abby is wearing an oversized UMHB Crusaders t-shirt and hot pink PJ shorts, and today she has decided to eat her cereal in milk like Mommy. She dips the flakes of her All-Bran into her milk cup one at
11:30 AM: Sorry. …one at a time. So of course eventually the milk spilled all over the table and the cute pajama outfit, and I had to clean up the table, and then go change Abby’s clothes. It was getting to be that time anyway, because we leave the house at 8:45 to get to BSF on time. But now we’re home and Abby is taking a quick nap before
3:15 PM: Well, that nap didn’t last long! Anyway, when she woke up we ate bean and avocado burritos for lunch and then went outside to check the mail and color with sidewalk chalk. It is so much easier to keep Abby entertained when we’re outside! But I finally got her to come inside by bribing her with a snack
3:25 PM: Just cleaned up the grapes off of the floor after Abby “accidentally” dropped the bowl. Apparently she wants crackers instead.
8:00 PM: Where did the afternoon go? Abby threw a huge fit over having to pick up her refrigerator magnets. We played with her toy kitchen. I had to make a portable dinner tonight so that we could eat with Stephen at church in the 30 minute window between his last meeting and his youth activity. When we got home, it was time for bath and bed (Abby loves drinking bath water! She loves holding armfuls of soft toys while we rock and sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” at bedtime!). Now the house is finally quiet and I have about an hour and a half to finish my to-do list. Will write more later…
Not quite the Austen-esque attention to detail that I had imagined. Maybe when I try again in April I will have better success. Meanwhile, in the midst of all my attempts at photojournalism, videography, and record-keeping, let’s hope I don’t forget to live in these moments I’m working so hard to remember!