From my last post about preserving family legacies, a few things became clear in comments: 1. We all want a way of recording and preserving our family memories for our children. 2. We all have enough incomplete baby book guilt to fill an airplane hangar.
I remember feeling back in those early sleep-deprived days that the baby book was soooo important. And then feeling absolutely horrendous that I never finished Thalia’s–let alone Sage’s.
(Dear second children: Sorry. Love, every parent ever.)
Now with my kids a bit older, it feels like remembering the day your daughter got her first tooth or what her first foods were or how many freaking receiving blankets you unwrapped at your shower and from whom are all pretty insignificant details; at least to me.
What I find more meaningful are the funny things our kids have said, the times we spent together, the trips we took, the family members in their lives that may pass before they’re old enough to remember them.
And above all, I want to preserve the stories from their parents and grandparents and aunts that help create the picture of lives that our children would otherwise never know.
For those of you looking for guidance, I wanted to throw out some of the very best memory books I’ve come across, that have very little to do with saving locks of hair (am I the only one that found that a little gross?) or carefully documenting the baby’s weight and height at exactly the 5th of every month. Oy.
Tip: Give one of these books to a relative on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, or even your own child’s birthday. The following year, they can return it to you completed as a gift for you. It sets a reasonable deadline, and will be the single best regift you can ever imagine.
This is the beautiful little book I gave to my mother last year and it’s a treasure. It has around 30 really interesting questions to spark memories, like “who was the best teacher you ever had and why?” and “what do you remember about the birth of your children.” It’s also how I learned that the “most mischief” my mother got into included sneaking out to meet boys and making out the airport. (The airport! Mom!)
This is a wonderful series from a small imprint called Sand Dune Publishing who I love. The spiral-bound books all have titles like Between You and Me, Mom. Also Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle and several more, so they’re customized just for a special person. Prompts include “What music did you most like as a teen?” and “As you think about your life so far, what are you most proud of?” I spent time getting through some of of it with my own Grandmother in 2006 before she died–I asked, and wrote down her answers–and now it’s a family heirloom. I’m considering asking my mother and her sibling to help me fill out some of the unanswered prompts now. Questions like “how do you think I’m similar or different to you?” could be really interesting coming from someone who knew us both.
Mom Lambeth Hochwald is a genius; she knew that while our baby book intentions are good…well, you know the rest. So she created this fantastic book with fun prompts, checklists, and fill-in-the-blanks that really requires very little of your time. My favorite: Since I’ve become a parent, I have been able to sleep late ____ days a week. I especially like that this is a great one for any kind of mom–single, married, adoptive, straight or gay. In other words, no traditional questions about weddings or husbands or going into labor. Just the universality of motherhood.
If you don’t know Rag & Bone Bindery, they make the most lovely fabric-bound journals and albums for every occasion. I can’t love them more. The 12 Ways Book is so special, because it’s so versatile. You can hand one to various relatives to save for your child one day; or conversely, have all the cousins fill one out for a grandparent’s big birthday or anniversary. You’ll have an amazing collection of personal sentiment about one person to keep in your family together, which is a whole different way to look at a memory book.
I think the best thing about any of these books is that they’re low-commitment, they don’t require you sticking to a schedule to fill them out, and a blank page really isn’t the end of the world. Not that it ever is.
Guilt-free memory preservation, whoo!