Years ago, around the time Myla first started talking, I would write notes in a notebook of the funny things she’d say. And then once, browsing online, I came across an awesome custom photo book that had beautiful little areas to write fun little things your kid says. I first saw it featured in this blog post, and immediately ordered my own, full of great pictures of Myla, and cute graphic spaces in which to write.
The company was called Paper Coterie, and UNFORTUNATELY, it is now out of business. (Sadly, if I had known that, I might have ordered about six of those books ahead of time…)
…But wait a minute. If you don’t mind, let’s pause here a moment, and rewind a bit…
I have a longstanding love of Moleskine sketchbooks.
Before the internet had become a part of my everyday life, before I had a printer…before I could Google things quickly from the convenience of my phone in a mere matter of seconds, before I had ever even DREAMED of Pinterest, I had kept Moleskine sketchbook journals that pretty much served that exact same purpose: Anything at all that I saw that I wanted to remember, I logged it in my sketchbook.
It was my own sort of little encyclopedia of things that interested me. Not so much strictly my own work, but my own versions and interpretation of things I saw, sketched in my own hand, of other peoples’ work, other peoples’ information. A little encyclopedia of stuff I never knew I wanted to know. I often copied them directly (like Tank Girl below), or sometimes added my own flair (like the tattoos on the woman below).
I documented things like the seven wonders of the world, Russion prison tattoos, the lifecycle of a frog, the various types of clouds and their names, the origins of the term “bless you,” hobo symbols, infamous pirate flags, and the meaning of fortune telling lines in palm reading.
I carried it EVERYWHERE I went. It was fun for me, it was a collection of things that went wherever my imagination took me, whatever I was interested in at the time. I wondered, I researched, and I documented.
Years later, when I was pregnant, I constantly heard “enjoy every moment, it goes so quickly!” So since I am quite a literal person, I took that to heart, and then always felt this intensely insane NEED to document EVERYTHING. When I was pregnant with Myla, I kept a couple of sketch journals throughout the whole thing, which I somehow continued to keep up all the way until she was about two, (when I became too busy and finally just let it go).
It’s funny looking back–the illustrations are so detailed and magical when our little cub was still in my tummy, and somehow get much simpler and roughly sketchier during her baby and toddler years…sometimes favoring a quick line of text or two instead of a drawing, thanks to lack of time and exhaustion…
When my husband was deployed to Afghanistan and Myla hadn’t even yet turned two, I felt the same insanely furious need for complete documentation. Somehow, along with the myriad of day-to-day things I had to take care of, I managed to take video clips of things Myla and I had done and EVERY MONTH, compile them into a movie (complete with themed and synchronized music and text), and send them to my husband, my mother and mother-in-law, and my grandmothers. EVERY. MONTH. They were beautiful, they were exhausting, they were fun, and my husband says that was one thing that he appreciated the most, while he was away from us for so long.
At some point, though, you just have to LIVE that life, and let go of the furious documenting, just for document’s sake, and when he came back from deployment, that’s what I did. I can be honest when I felt like there were times I didn’t want to miss documenting a SINGLE EVENT. Sure, the big ones: first food, first step, first walk. But I was furiously documenting EVERYTHING. It sort of felt like I HAD to, because heaven forbid your kid grow up and you didn’t record EVERY memorable moment. That MIGHT just mean you didn’t care, or didn’t appreciate. Heaven forbid you didn’t think to put a dollar in a binder for her at every birthday, or save every bit of hair they ever lost or any of the millions and millions of memorable and wonderful things you can find on Pinterest. As much documenting as I’ve done (and seriously, I have done a LOT), I STILL find things on Pinterest that I hadn’t ever considered.
But it’s okay, I promise (I tell myself). You don’t have to document it all. Just enjoy it. Document what you like, but don’t do it because you feel you NEED to. There’s no WAY you can do it all. (Trust me, I’ve tried.)
So now that she’s older, and she’s saying all the wonderful things kids say, and my little Paper Coterie book is already full of little wonderful things she’s ALREADY said, I was reminded of my old sketchbook journals, and decided to do my own illustrations of some of the stuff Myla says. I had kept a little running list on my phone, for my own remembrance, and I wanted to pull a few and let them see the light of a new sketchbook. I even bought a new Moleskine just for the occasion.
I didn’t illustrate them because I felt like I “NEEDED” to…but more like the old way I documented things in the past: because they were truly wonderful little things I wanted to remember.
Some of them are wonderful little introspective moments when you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the deep little depths of your kid’s imagination…
And some of them–although they might SEEM quite “deep,” are just her simple little observations about things….
Either way, they’re very lovely to me. Not because I NEED to make a keepsake, but simply because I want to illustrate them.
When I showed a couple of them to her, she found them amusing, but she doesn’t see the wonder in it that I do; she’s simply just living it. There’s nothing magical to HER in what she says, it’s just the random little thoughts that come out of her wonderful little head.
But they’ll be things I always remember. And things I truly always WANT to remember. Things that make me happy.
And sometimes, for all the right reasons, that’s okay.