Remembering what to remember


Today seems like a perfectly appropriate day to start. The wee one, Smiley, had avocado for the first time, and he gave this wonderful fruit the round of applause it deserves. He started clapping this week and has set aside all other aspirations until he masters the art of putting two palms together to create a gentle slap, slap, slap. He still seems surprised when it actually works!

I don’t recall when the two big kids learned to clap or eat avocadoes, and I was slightly relieved to realize I never wrote it down. Finally, something unique for baby #3! Like many first-born children, my Doodlebug has a baby book bursting with details, observations and measurements galore. The photo albums from her early years have clever captions, exact dates and photo shoots that required multiple costume changes. Her first year of life is cataloged with the verve of a seasoned librarian.

Then, before she was two, Rascal was born, and my archiving plans went the way of deep sleep. Life got messy. Soon I was backlogged on every journaling or photography project I’d ever started. Every few months I would catch up, only to find myself quickly overwhelmed and anxious…“Gotta capture this or it will be lost forever.”

Now five years later I realize that yes, some of it is lost forever. The details of some big memories slipped away. Other small moments went unrecorded. But even so, I made it my mission to capture most of them. Some are scribbles on sticky notes or photos lumped into a digital shoebox, but they are around here somewhere.

They aren’t all perfectly cataloged, but they are accessible. And best of all, they are part of our daily family life and conversation. We keep these stories alive with the telling and retelling, often to the point that I hear my own inflection in a child’s recounting. Their current enthusiasm for these stories is insatiable, but I will keep them coming even when the kids are too cool to hear them.

Because these moments, they matter. What we remember, for ourselves and for our children, matters. The big and the small that we choose to celebrate are tiny treasures that will surround them, sustain them, and keep them close. So that “Remember when...?” turns into “Today, let’s…!”