Article "Providing Memories of Home for Our Children"
On the shelf is my baby book. I have often read through the book, and was glad that my mother had taken the time to jot little things down about me. My mother wrote of events from my babyhood and childhood as they were happening. She knew that I would be interested in reading her notations later on when I was older. In the front of the baby book, she pasted Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If." I imagine she thought that the message of the poem was full of good advice.
In mid-life, we sometimes have "musings" about things from our past that just pop into our heads — things that we haven't thought about in years. We might think back on something from our childhood that really stands out — being in a school play, embarrassments that made our faces turn red, or an especially happy moment in time.
I remember my father's punctual 5:00 p.m. telephone calls to my mother announcing that he was leaving the office for the day. He always asked her if she needed anything from the store. Every evening at 6:00 p.m. our family sat down at the supper table. We talked and had good "southern-style" meals as my father glanced at the newspaper.
In the summer, my mother would sit on the lawn chair in the back yard to cool off — I always joined her. We chatted, and I sometimes tried to catch fireflies.
My father, now in his mid-nineties, has lead a busy life. He became an elder in the church in 1959, and remained in that capacity for thirty-nine consecutive years. He has been a member of the Kiwanis club for many years, and once served as its President. He completed law school and passed the Texas Bar in 1942. At age ninety-three, he finally retired from his law practice. Up until that time, he had been the oldest practicing attorney in Grayson County, Texas. During his impressive career, he was appointed County Attorney for Grayson County to complete the unfinished term of the elected official. He was elected (by landslide votes) to that office twice and served as for ten years.
In her younger years, my mother worked in a dental office, a photography studio, and at the County Clerk's office. She also worked at my father's law office for more than twenty-five years. My parents have recently celebrated fifty-eight wonderful years of marriage. Their love and devotion have been an inspiration to me!
We all have memories that come to the surface, sometimes quite unexpectedly. Thinking back on my own memories, I can now more fully appreciate my parent's hard work as they raised me. They shaped my character by their example, and I have been truly blessed!
On the day that my son was born, the nurse in the delivery room said "You'll never be the same again." That remark was one of the most poignant things that anyone has ever said to me. Everything suddenly came into focus. I was a mother!
Motherhood was a serious undertaking for me. I maintained feeding schedules, baths, snacks, playtime, nap time, and bedtime. Sunday school and church attendance was a big part of our weekly schedule. It seemed as if I was in an unfamiliar area — I had never been a mother before. I thought about my parents, and tried to emulate them.
I knew that one day they might enjoy reading about themselves. When my son and daughter were little, they loved to talk, read, and sing little church songs. I decided to start writing things in their baby books — including cute things they did, or said. The journal entries that I jotted down sounded just like I was having an ongoing conversation with them. In a written dialogue, I told my children what they did, when they took their first steps, and the words they learned. Also, I told them about the toys and books that they enjoyed the most.
My daily notes in their books weren't always "daily." I wrote to them when I could, and did my best to summarize the highlights of their activities if a few months had lapsed. I knew that one day they might enjoy reading about themselves — what they were like when they were little. I pasted a poem in the front of my son's baby book — "Babies Don't Keep" by Helen M. Young. The poem's message was a reminder that babies grow up fast — that moments with our babies are precious.
My children's baby books didn't have enough pages for me, and I typed additional pages as an addendum, using my portable typewriter. Having something typewritten helped, since I could no longer read my own handwriting — often written in haste. (A portion of my book, "As I Was Saying ..." contains my conversational-style writing to my children. I wrote items while the information was still fresh on my mind.)
You may be a mother who has been inspired to write to your little ones. Mothers aren't the only ones who can contribute to a baby's priceless memory book. If there is a special baby in your family, you may want to add something to the baby's memoirs, too!
What do you remember about your childhood? Let your mind wander ... really
think about it ... take your time. While you're thinking, I'll share a few
more of my memories. I remember going to the golf course with my father;
also eating delicious pancakes on Saturday mornings and hamburgers on
Saturday nights, playing in the sandbox with my grandfather, and trying to
sing alto with my grandmother. Well, did you remember a few things? What
memories are you creating for your children? Let us give them lots of good
ones, because they'll last a lifetime!