Childrearing

Mommy Confession: I Never Got Around To Making That Baby Book

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scrapbookingIt’s supposed to be the crowning achievement of your first year post-birth, right? You spend most of that year covered in spit-up, your hair in an off-balance pony tail, your body making a constant, unconscious rocking motion. But at the end of it, you somehow emerge from your cocoon with a beautiful, shiny baby book chronicling your child’s first giggle and first bite of peas. There’s a lock from the first haircut and the harrowing tale of the first time your child rolled over. Baby books are a motherhood staple and the time and effort that goes in to them seems to demonstrate your commitment to parenting.

Except my daughter’s baby book was never completed. I am a failure of a first-time parent.

It’s not that I don’t have the pictures. I have thousands of pictures, all nicely sorted by month of the first year. They’re all sitting around in my computer, waiting for the day when I’ll want to embarrass my child with shots from her first bath. A couple choice ones have been printed and framed around the house. I mean, I’m not completely useless. We aren’t barbarians here. I have pictures of my child.

It’s not that I don’t have the supplies and the tools. I was gifted multiple baby books during my numerous showers. I’m pretty sure that I even have entire scrapbooking kits with special paper and plenty of stickers. There are cute little frames for the first “anything and everything you could possibly notice about your child’s development.” If I bothered to open the packages, I might even find step-by-step instructions.

In the beginning, I felt justified in brushing off my duty of making memories. New moms have a lot going on! There would be plenty of time later on to focus on reflection, I assumed. My mother and sister seemed to get a little worried and started buying me more tools to capture every important milestone. They bought me little journals where you’re supposed to write an observation a day. I have approximately five out of 365 days for the first year all filled out. I don’t even know where my old pregnancy journal got to.

After a while, it became like a stand against authority. I was bucking tradition. Maybe I’d make my daughter’s baby book on Shutterfly and just annoy the hell out of everyone. No handmade, glittery tome of motherhood for me. Give me nicely cropped digital prints and a white leather-bound book any day. To be fair, there’s still a possibility that I’ll make a baby book on Shutterfly. It’s not like the pictures have an expiration date my friends.

Now, I’m just not sure about the entire baby book process. I never had a baby book. I was the last of three. After the first child is born, the hard work that goes into those little time-sucks is pretty much optional, right? I always resented my brother’s baby book. Maybe I’m just saving my children from fights later on in life. No one will be able to say, “Look at this thing that’s falling apart because all the old glue dots have dried up! Mom spent months on this thing. She definitely loves me more!”

Every time a friend pulls out their monstrously huge and intensely detailed baby book, I get a little defensive. “I have all these pictures,” I think to myself. “My daughter doesn’t care if they’re in a book or just playing on a slideshow.” In the back of my head I know that it’s really my guilt talking. I feel guilty that I still haven’t made the damn book.

Maybe years from now when my daughter spends her first week at sleepaway camp, I’ll sit around and finally construct her baby book. More likely, I’ll throw a party to celebrate our empty house. As time passes, I’ll get over my guilt about my daughter’s baby book. And she’ll continue to be completely unaware that her mother was supposed to glue pictures onto sheets of paper decorated with rattles and booties.

(Photo: Bannykh Alexey Vladimirovich/Shutterstock)