One of my absolute favorite pastimes is walking down memory lane. In fact, just the other day, my husband, whom I met in college, and I were talking about the good ole days on campus and how we sometimes wish we could relive some of those good times. That is why I am so grateful we have pictures and sentimental items, like the movie ticket stub from our first date, to give us that sense of fulfillment.
College days do swiftly pass, but luckily for us, life has brought some even more amazing memories: traveling, our wedding day, buying our first home, and my personal favorite, raising our children, to name a few. I know, just as we reflected on our college years, before we know it, we will find ourselves reminiscing about the times of today, when our boys were just wee little ones toddling around needing us for everything. This is why I am being intentional about preserving these times.
First and foremost, in this day and age, pictures are all the rage.
I could easily have 10,000 pictures in my phone at any given moment, and if I had to guess, I would say about 75% of them are of my kids. One thing I have decided to do is get some of those photos printed and organized into photo books or albums. This provides organization for memories and allows the trek into the past to be in an orderly fashion. There is nothing like going to a family member’s house and looking through old albums during holidays or special family gatherings; and now that I have a family of my own, I want to provide that enjoyment for my children in a chronological manner. Photos of the announcement card I had made to tell my husband we were pregnant with our first, all the way up to the more current ones of that very child cheesing on the potty he so proudly used for the first time, are in picture form for us to look at and relish for years to come.
Then there are videos, which magically take memory making a step further as they add movement and sound to the photos we love so dearly. Therefore, in addition to the pictures I mentioned above, we also have video of my husband’s reaction to reading that announcement telling him he was going to be a daddy. Furthermore, you can actually see and hear the little bitty toddler voice excitedly exclaim, “I did it, Mommy!” and me cheering in the background to accompany the potty picture. One day when my baby is a grown man with a deep voice that has vibrations you can feel, it will be hard to believe that long ago, his voice was so youthful and innocent. Thank God, though, that we will have the videos of yesteryear to refresh our fading memories.
Beyond pictures and videos, I took things a step further and bought baby memory books.
I know this is a concept that some may deem outdated, but it is one that brings me so much joy. My creative juices get to really flow as I’ve used the pages of those blue polka dotted books to document all the major moments in my children’s lives thus far in a fun and detailed way: the days they were born, as well as the ones we brought each of them home from the hospital, their newborn identification bracelets, cards with their little footprints, birth stats, lists of favorite foods and songs, as well as birthday party invitations and pictures, locks of hair from first haircuts, pictures from first days of school, along with other specials stages of their development can, or will, all be found there. These are tangible reminders of some of the most special times in my kiddos’ lives and treasures that are invaluable to me.
Something else to consider, which many of us already do, is to journal about our everyday happenings.
My oldest son is two-years-old and his vocabulary has exploded out of nowhere. The things that come out of his mouth recently have given us some deep belly laughs, and because I have journaled these instances, I am able to revisit them whenever I need a quick pick-me-up. And on a deeper level, I am able to look back and see exactly how I felt at various stages of parenthood. Memories collected during those sleepless nights with a newborn and some of those frustrating days with a stubborn toddler are forever etched in history because I have documented them. Years and decades into the future, I will be able to flip through the pages and revisit a time when my home was filled with wild laughter and the chaos of having children present.
Additionally, as if these are not enough, I recently came across another memory catcher I would really love to soon implement. Someone shared with me the idea of starting an email account for each of my boys and sending weekly updates to it. These weekly emails can be one of the funny stories I mentioned above about my toddler, a sentiment to my younger son about a new milestone he reaches, or even video messages simply talking to them. Over the years, the emails will accumulate and essentially write the story of their lives. Then at a certain age of maturation, the password to their respective accounts will be shared with them so they can have an in depth look at all that was documented over the course of their journey. While the journal I presented above is more for my future self to recall the past, the email account would be for the adult versions of my sons to enjoy.
Finally, we did a time capsule for my two-year-old at his birthday celebration, and I plan to do the same for my youngest. We simply asked family and friends to write a short sentiment to him with well wishes, or a special memory, for him to read when he is older. I also included some information on current events to make it interesting. We set the date for his 18th birthday, and I am looking forward to the day when he can open it. The reality of it is, some of the people who took part in his time capsule might not be around when he opens it, so how special will it be to read their heartfelt words? That way we will not have to tell him how much they loved him; their words will be there to prove this instead.
Though today my boys are way too young to appreciate my efforts, one day when they are grown men, prayerfully with families of their own, they will use these various items to not only flash back into time, but to also be reminded of the depths of my love for them. How I tried so hard to give them an enjoyable childhood, one that was full of love, exploration, encouragement, exposure, and fun.
Whether you are like me and want to capture every single moment of every single day, or if you would rather pick one specific means to capture these precious moments in time, please, mama, commit to doing something. Your future self, and especially your children, will be so grateful you did.