If you’re a new parent and you’re wondering what you are going to remember about your baby, let me tell you. Nothing. You will remember nothing.
Okay, that’s not exactly true. You will remember tiny little moments, but it will be hard to remember the entire essence of what your life is like right now, what your baby is like right now.
I look at my children today and I try to remember what my 11 year old was like – toddling around our home. And it is nearly impossible.
The best I can do is remember little snippets of time – like a day we were taking a walk down our neighborhood street in New York City. She insisted on climbing the stairs at the entrance way of every building. It was the West Village. There were a lot of stairs. It took forever. It took longer than forever.
But she didn’t care that I wanted to get home. She just kept climbing up and down, with that determined toddler energy. Her hair had grown into a blonde pixie cut and whatever she wore that day, I know she picked it out herself because she knew what she liked.
Not long after I had my first baby, a friend told me to start writing stuff down. She insisted I would forget all these passages of childhood. I knew she was wrong. How could I forget any of it? I spent hours staring at this baby, nursing her, changing her, kissing her, loving her. Every moment was chiseled in my brain.
But it turns out, it wasn’t. As your child evolves, those memories somehow slowly drift away. You look at a child who now stands head to head with you and you think, how was she ever that small?
Thankfully, I followed my friend’s advice. In the past 11 years, I did write things down in a notebook. Just now and then. Silly things, ordinary things, things I would have long forgotten if I hadn’t picked up a pen.
Like the fact that Chase (3 at the time) used to kiss me every night on both cheeks as if he was secretly European. And as he did it, he would say, “I kiss your face. And now I kiss your other face.”
The funny thing is I wrote down these notes for myself but I inadvertently gave my children a gift because they love when I read from this book.
Dylan adores hearing about her younger self. Like the day she (then 9) told me, “Daddy is good on TV. You’re good at watching TV.” (I guess we all have our strengths.)
I want to remember everything. But I know I will have to settle for moments here and there.
I want to remember that 2 year old Cash rolls a backpack wherever he goes and would hitchhike to Utah if I would just let him be free.
And that 5 year old Harlowe always turns to me and says, “You’re my best mommy. Of course you’re my only mommy.” (She does have a point. It is a very small sample size.)
And that when Chase wants something, he will ask me 457 times because he is undoubtedly the most persistent member of this family.
And that 9 year old Summer is terrified of the tiniest of dogs but not gigantic horses. And that there is no one who gives better hugs.
And that 11 year old Dylan is a tornado of passion, creativity and unbridled energy. And one day, not long ago, my heart almost exploded as I watched her jump on the trampoline in the rain with her 2 year old brother – both soaking wet and filled with ridiculous joy.
So whether your child is 2 months or already towering over you, take a pen and a notebook and start writing down the moments. Just whenever you think of it. The things they say, what they hope to be when they grow up, how they make you laugh, their obsession with cheese, whatever.
It doesn’t matter what you write. Only that you write something.
Because some day you will want to remember it all.