Revisiting journals and scrapbooks from a slower time

In the early years of my kids’ lives I wrote down everything. I kept track of the basics in a journal that I kept on the bedside table: first smiles, first words, first steps. I made baby books and covered every page in notes, tracked heights and weights on growth charts, stuffed three-ring binders full of immunization and medical records, and designed scrapbook after scrapbook after scrapbook...

I recorded funny words, phrases and conversations my children spouted off in their toddler and preschool years in the journal. Those quotes, along with a collection of home videos from the kids’ younger years, remain some of our family’s favorite keepsakes to uncover and pour through again and again.

Recently my 10-year-old asked me to pull out the old journal and read some of her “baby talk” quotes to her. Her personal favorite is the time she went to her grandmother’s house for her first sleepover and loudly and proudly announced “Oh crap, Nana!” (Or more like “Oh cwap, Nana,” as I imagine her 3-year-old voice pronouncing it.) I can still picture what my mom’s face must have looked like at hearing such a proclamation from her sweet, angelic little granddaughter.

Other favorite journal entries included her toddler-aged brother announcing that he had a baby sister in his tummy. My personal favorite is my daughter calling a bikini a “zucchini” until she was 8 years old.

We had barely made it through the pages upon pages of baby quotes that day before my daughter began rifling through drawers and cabinets all over the house, pulling out baby books, photo albums, boxes full of old artwork and scrapbook after scrapbook after scrapbook...

It’s been a long time since I last wrote about my journey through motherhood. Now too busy with homeschooling, sports and work, my days of finding the time to scrapbook are long past. The jottings of my children’s mispronounced words and mish-mashed expressions became less and less frequent as they grew older and older, until at some point over the years they disappeared altogether.

It’s bittersweet to pour through those old books, and remember those earlier times when they needed my help to accomplish even the simplest task, and when they fell asleep in my arms after a busy morning of playing.

These days, I keep a folder for each of them where I eventually shove my daughter’s county fair awards and my son’s soccer certificates when the pile on the counter threatens to topple over. We live life in the fast lane of schoolwork, sports, and social lives. Those days of napping together on the couch have been replaced by the hustle and bustle of a chaotic but exciting new existence. And though these days are different, they too are precious.

When my daughter and I had gone through every last keepsake in the house that day, she ran off, her mind already on her next pursuit, and I sat for another minute, still stuck somewhere between those early days of motherhood and the present. Then, letting my busy world keep spinning without me for just a few minutes, I dug that old journal out from the bottom of the pile. And I wrote.