Changing seasons: Thoughts on giving my adult daughters their baby books

baby books

"It would be good for me to know those things," my middle daughter sighed into the phone the other day. And she's right.

We were on the phone, discussing challenges she faces with her middle child, my second grandson. There is hope, I pointed out, a light at the end of the tunnel, because it's just that her son is very much like her. Exactly like her in this particular instance, I said, doing exactly what she did at exactly the same age.

Which is exactly what prompted my daughter's comment.

Yes, it would indeed be good for my daughter to know those things. I hadn't been keeping them a secret, by any means. Those things and many others, I told her, are written down for one and all to see, to reference, in her baby book.

Her baby book that's in my possession. Her baby book that's stored in a trunk along with her older and younger sisters' baby books, along with thousands of photos and negatives of days, months and years long gone.

I've always intended to pass along their baby books to my daughters. It's just never seemed the right time — for me. It's hard for me to let go.

Yes, I know it would be good for my girls to know the matters marked in their books. Yet I cling to the books because they remind me of the full nest, the frenetic days, the beautiful babbling bustle of busy-ness that marked my early years of motherhood. And our early years as a family. The milestones as well as the minutia that long ago slipped through the cracks, leaving tumultuous teen years to ring loudest in my memory.

baby book

The baby books serve as my memory of the baby years, help me keep straight the story of our lives, the tales of three tots born within three years. The pages note the dates of foods introduced, vaccinations given, teeth erupting, birthdays and holidays celebrated. Typical times typical parents go through with youngsters.

Then there are those moments and memories unique to our family. "Went to the North Pole at 22 mos — HATED IT!" one baby book says. In the same one: "Throws up on Daddy 9 times out of 10 when he holds her."

baby book

Her sister's book includes, "Pretty bossy, but tries to do it semi-nice" and — a 2 1/2 year notation — "Knows that babies come out of vagina, too."

Of the other sister, I wrote, "Likes to hug and hum" as well as "Gets along better w/Daddy."

Each baby book written in my script of decades ago — handwriting that matured right along with my three babies that matured into vibrant adults. And all proving I'm much like every other parent who had good intentions upon a child's birth, who planned to continue recording until the book was filled. My girls' books aren't filled. Not a single one.

baby book

Even worse — yet further proof of my "normal parent" tendencies despite my forever feeling not like the other "normal" parents — is the lack of entries in my youngest child's book. Oh, the woe of that little one. There's even an entry in which I stated, "Can't remember... this was written 8 months later!"

Funny how the books now remind me of characteristics that remained with my girls throughout the ages. The bossy one, the one that continually fell asleep on the couch, the one that "still gets bored very easily." They're the same now as they were then.

Conversely, there are comments that now make me scratch my head, lead me to wonder how I confused in my mind the one that was always cheerful with the one who was cranky more often than not, the one who refused to eat anything with the one who happily gobbled up all I offered.

Though incomplete records, to be sure, it would be good for my babies-turned-adults to know these things.

I decide to give in, to let go of the books. I still have those thousands of photos to remind me, to help me remember the things I've forgotten, help me keep the family story straight and strong. So I'll pass the baby books along to the rightful owners, to help them know of the things they were too young to recall.

I place my middle daughter's baby book in a shipping box along with colorful fall leaves I've collected from my yard for my grandsons. I include sheets I've printed for them to color red, yellow, gold, in celebration of autumn's arrival. It's a package filled with proof of the changing seasons in more ways than one.

I'm tempted to mark the box FRAGILE in hopes the postal service will be gentle with its contents. It's not necessary, though; nothing inside is breakable. It's just me that feels a bit fragile as I tape up the package for mailing, prepare manila envelopes for my other two daughters, prepare to pass the three baby books along.

It's hard for me to let go. Yet, I do.

It will be good for them to know these things.

Today's question:

Who holds the baby books of your children?