Newly empty-nested, most days I have enough spare time to write. These days, my house is quiet, too quiet, void of noisy and chaotic distractions of (please insert adjectives of your choice here) teens, tweens or toddlers. I no longer suffer from constant sleep deprivation commonly associated with parenting, brought on by endless midnight infant feedings, unwelcome bedtime tantrums, prolonged late-night asthma attacks, and way-past-midnight pick-ups. Of course, sometimes I lay awake late at night worrying about my “grown and flown” college kids; however currently none of my adult children are residing under my roof. Any chronic fatigue I may experience can in no fair way be attributed directly to them, and I must assume responsibility for it (perhaps the subject matter for another blog post).
Like many super keen moms, with great affection, I created “Baby Books” for each of my kids. These treasured keepsakes are filled with noteworthy details of our family history, and speckled with one-of-a-kind souvenirs of their precious early life. For example, I managed to insert their tiny hospital baby-bracelets. Some of my super-mom peers kept innovative souvenir boxes filled with larger significant childhood mementos (blankies, stuff animals etc…), too bulky to be placed in a picture frame and too sentimental to trash at an annual garage sale. Although I do not have any particular highly efficient cataloguing-our-stuff system, many of these meaningful childhood artifacts can be found dispersed around the house.
Honestly, what parent doesn’t melt when coming across a long forgotten masterpiece of colourful preschool art, or perhaps a tattered handwritten scribbled letter sent home from sleep-away camp. These are essential artifacts of our children’s development and serve to remind us that in fact they were once delightful, adorable and loveable in every imaginable way.
That is an important reminder. Confession: the “Baby Book” for my firstborn child is decorative and elaborate and the books I made for my subsequent children, although imbued with the same infinite love were produced by a very tired (and cranky) mommy, hence not quite as artistic.
At some point, in the midst of my exhausting first decade of motherhood, I intuitively began to produce (safeguarded in my private collection) a Family Book of Wisdom. Honestly, I’m not sure how the ingenious idea came to me, but it is now among my personal prized possessions. Most of the entries are jotted in point form or written in basic list format. My favourite creative entries include spontaneous quotes, wishes, and ambitions as expressed by my three kids at various ages and stages. No filter, no editing. As it is written: “Out of the mouths of babes”. (Psalms 8:2) For example, it’s wonderful to have documented in print that my kids dreamed of someday becoming: a hairdresser, a ballet teacher, and a policeman, not to mention a variety of heroic and majestic fairytale characters. As I flip through the pages I am enveloped in heartwarming nostalgia; the words penned therein have the magical power to bring forth tears and smiles. Somehow, words can provide a wonderful perspective entirely different from photos. Well, much of the content is not fit for public print; but it’s mine to have and to behold. Long after their childhood fades, I will treasure the faded pages of my Book of Family Wisdom nestled in my bedside night table.
In retrospect, my only wish is that I had taken the opportunity to include more entries. I guess I was too damn tired most of the time. Or likely, consumed with the daily minutia of raising a family.
We all know well; there is always one more carpool to drive, one more dinner to prepare, one more homework assignment to review, one more parent-teacher meeting to attend, one more dreaded orthodontist appointment, and definitely one more sibling rivalry to, with any luck, resolve.
Not to mention all the nagging.
If only there were a few more well-articulated and enlightening entries in my Book of Family Wisdom. There is no doubt; this extraordinary book filled with special memories and formative moments will remain an essential layer of my evolving family history. I wonder, what wised words will be inscribed in the next chapter.