It’s takes a snap to break a habit but an effort to keep at one. I skipped a couple of days of writing and then it was a month when I came back. Things have happened in the last one month and I meant to make notes so I don’t forget all the things I want to write about. None of that happened. As of this moment, I cannot think of one anecdote to narrate.
From the moment, R was born, I’ve been planning, plotting and trying various ways to record important events and milestone. For some reason I can’t quite explain but I’m sure is shared by many parents, the need to chronicle my child’s life is strong. I used to have an app that recorded her feeding and pee/pooping times, when she was an infant, just like the tracking sheet of paper the nurses used at the hospital during the 5 days I was there. One day, months later, I lost all my data when the app crashed. Just like that, it was all wiped out. poof! I never went back to it. There was no way I could get it back and by then I was not as interested in recording that sort of data anyway. Then I found an app to record milestones, called Tinybeans, which I don’t update as diligently as I thought I would when I downloaded it.
There is an app where I can record the funny and cheeky things she says, called Little Hoots. I try and do this as often as I can but sometimes I can’t get to the app straight away and then much later I don’t remember the words they way she said it! I have another couple of apps to record pictures and the like but I haven’t bothered. It gets too hard to keep up with so many apps and ways to note down everything. I bought a hard cover book that I meant to update, with her dad, as a fun activity. We have to record moments and add pictures in each page, documenting the first year of her life. He hasn’t spent 10 seconds looking at it and has zero interest in partaking in the activity. The book is sitting somewhere collecting dust.
Inspired by a colleague who makes photo-books of every holiday, I’ve started doing the same. It takes an enormous amount of effort and time (which is one of the reasons I haven’t been able to get to this blog) but it is something we can look at without turning on the computer and trying to scroll through a few thousand pictures. I make it so that she can remember the experiences and places she has been to. I try to include our pictures and some information about the places we visited. Cutting down over 3500 pictures to 60 pages of 3 – 4 photographs each means that a lot of them don’t make it into the album. While making the book for our Europe holiday, there were so many pictures that I decided to make another album of just her memories with her cousin separate to the holiday book. At least, that was an idea while I made “the London book”. So, a lot of ‘cousins photos’ and ‘home photos’ didn’t make it into the photo-book. I haven’t gone back to the photo software since. Trawling through those 3500 picture again and picking a couple of hundred, arranging them into suitable layouts, picking colours for background and borders, captions, book title and writing little notes is a lot of hard work. It needs hours of focus and patience. The hours are hard to come by in blocks.
The constant nagging at home aside, I enjoy spending time looking through those pictures and reliving memories. I enjoy the creativity involved in the exercise. R does not understand what I am doing while I’m busy with the book but she is patient with me and lets me have my time, even when I have to ignore her to concentrate on my work. In the end, when the book finally arrives, she enjoys it the most. That is the best part of it all. When the London book arrived, DH brought it over to me at work and we looked at it together. We thought it was a good book. I felt that I could have done some bits better but it was here and it was good. When I went to pick up R at the daycare that evening, I had the book in my hand. She grabbed it from me and wanted to “read it” straight away. Within seconds, she and her friends were seated in a circle around the book. She was explaining places to them – pointing at Eiffel Tower, London Eye, castles, her “bwother” and they were totally into it. Watching this exchange made all those hours and effort seem worthwhile. It was the best reaction I could have hoped for. The kids loved it. She ended up taking it back to the daycare the next day, for her Show-and-Tell.
It’s a start. Maybe one day, I will go back to the pictures of the first 3 years of her life and make albums or photo-books. It is too hard. There are over 10,000 photographs to sort through and while I’ve tried to make a start a number of times, it has been daunting. I have given up. I made a little booklet for her out of the Ekka festival we went to, one weekend. That went to the day-care for one of her Show-and-Tell too. That seems easier to do. Short little books for every weekend out. I have not seen her at the S&T but I imagine she must be narrating some version of her experience to her friends. I hope she is. It will do wonders for her communication skills in the years to come!
When I think about it, I don’t think my parents ever worried about these things. There are no books or blogs or records of the silly things I might have said or the cutesy faces I made. I grew up in an era where I had to negotiate with mum and dad to let me buy the 36-photos Kodak film instead of 28 but they did not want to spend extra money on that. We had to hope most of the pictures came out okay and chose what we clicked. That’s about it.
How has parenting become more complicated now? Is it the ease that technology affords us? Or are we too busy to stow away memories within ourselves that we feel the need to store them externally?