When we started our family, my husband and I had the best intentions to document this fun, fleeting stage in our lives.
We bought an expensive camera, an HD video recorder (it was 2009, our Blackberries weren’t that video-savvy) and a collection of pastel baby books to catalogue every precious little memory forever, always, in perpertuum.
When our first-born arrived, we were pretty good with the baby documenting. Our Facebook pages were typical of those annoying first-time parents whose incessant photos you ‘like’ and otherwise ignore. We even had a few photos printed (matte! With borders!) and started a real-life baby album.
When baby number two came along, the albums became a little more sparse, fewer photos made it to print, and the bar for baby documenting rose just a wee bit higher. Instead of machine-gunning the shutter release when my daughter ate her first spoonful of cereal, I created more measured collections of, “Spring 2012” or “Birthday.”
By the time baby number three arrived, my DSLR was gathering dust on the shelf, our video recorder had become a teething toy, and the empty pages of the baby books mocked me from their unopened box in the basement. My husband’s work phone stored whatever precious few memories we had been quick enough to capture.
Even our youngest child’s first 24 hours in this world went un-documented, due to chaos surrounding her arrival. My husband did eventually take a blurry photo on his phone of the first time I held her, one whole day after she was born. (Fortunately, her health quickly recovered and our baby girl – and life as a family of five – shot out of the gate like a cannonball.)
The gradual waning of our photo diligence is nothing surprising. Even my parents, who have a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf full of family albums from the 1970s+, eased up a bit by the time their fourth child was born. While my sisters and I each have personalized baby albums engraved with gold letters on the binding, my brother’s newborn photos can be found mixed within a binder titled, “1988-1990.”
I have this conversation with myself every year or so, about when I will sit down and go through old hard drives, computers, phones and memory cards to properly gather and giftwrap my children’s early years so they can look back at their cherub selves and giggle.
And I will, eventually, fill out those baby books. I will! Before I forget everything and my kids (and husband, who volunteered to handle this task five years ago but was dismissed because of his appalling penmanship) realize the books are incomplete.
Also and unrelated, can you believe that all of my kids had their first smile, first tooth and first day of school on the exact same day?
(With no photo evidence, who could prove me wrong?)