Confession: I Love Baby Books

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Ok. This may not be very 2019 of me, but here goes: I Love Baby Books. For those of you non-Luddites out there, a baby book (also known as a record book or memory book) is a sort-of store-bought scrapbook with pages for you to record your baby’s height and weight at birth, all their “firsts” (first outing, first holiday, first word), and other such adorableness, from birthdays to vacations.

I’m not a scrapbooker. It’s just not my thing. And when my mother gifted me a super cute baby blue baby book at my baby shower, I was pretty sure that filling it out would be nothing more than a motherly obligation of memory-keeping. My son was born, and I set aside the empty baby book as nighttime feedings, diaper changes, and pure survival took over my now blurry life. But at some point around month 4 or 5, I came up for air. It was a winter weekend, and we were trapped inside due to the 2nd blizzard of the season. Taking advantage of my husband being home, I was going through my son’s things (conducting the first of many rounds of weeding out clothes that no longer fit), and I came across the baby book. I figured I might as well start filling it in. As I flipped through its pages, I began to realize how much I had already forgotten. What exactly were his “distinctive characteristics” at birth? What did my aunt give to him on her first visit after he was born? Even more surprising to me was that I actually really wanted to remember all these things. It was already becoming clear to me how fleeting these stages of my son’s life would be. And so, I began recording the earliest moments of his life – first solid foods (“rice cereal and peaches”), his sleeping patterns at 3 months (“Daddy and Mama would put you to bed around 8 pm, and Daddy would wake you up around 11 pm for one more bottle…then you’d usually sleep until morning”), first tooth (“May 4, 2015”).

And so, I quickly grew to love the baby book. I have one for my daughter now, too, also from my mom (in retrospect, it makes perfect sense that my mom bought these baby books for me – after all, who knows better about their kids’ fleeting early childhood than our own mothers?). And I’m sure there are digital methods to do all of this. But, for me, there’s just something special about picking up a tangible book and flipping through it. Sometimes this is a solo act for me, and I find myself pausing over pictures of a very pregnant me, or of descriptions of my son’s favorite songs as a toddler (some of which I would have forgotten about had I not jotted the titles down). And sometimes this is an activity for my children and me, who never tire of seeing pictures of themselves as babies or of hearing stories of their earliest moments.

This morning, I completed my son’s baby book. He’s turning five later this month. He’s already had his first day of preschool, his first sleepover, several Halloween costumes. There are no more blanks left to fill in about his earliest, perhaps most precious, years. His baby book is not “perfect” – I used several different ink colors through the years in setting down these memories, the pictures are candid and quite amateur, Scotch tape abounds (I told you already, I’m not a scrapbooker). But it’s beautiful all the same. I treasure it much the same way I treasure him, and these years we’ve had together- these sheltered, special, and simple years of babyhood. It’s a document of love.

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Elizabeth Bettencourt holds a BFA in Theatre and a BS in Secondary English Education from the University of Rhode Island, a Masters in Reading & Literacy from Endicott College, and a Doctorate in Education from Northeastern University. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home parent full time, Liz taught English Language Arts and theatre at Plymouth South High School, where she also served as the ELA department head and the drama club advisor. Liz has also worked as an instructional coach and education consultant specializing in literacy instruction and differentiated instruction. In addition to her work as a mother, Liz currently directs theatre productions for Massassoit Community College and serves on the board of directors for New Bedford Festival Theatre. The majority of her time, however, is spent raising her son James and daughter Muriel with the help of her super supportive spouse, Matt. Liz is excited to be a part of the team at Providence Moms Blog, where she hopes to refresh her writing skills and reflect on this crazy and beautiful thing that is motherhood.