Firsts | Living with Gleigh

Being an avid scrapbooker, I did not settle for store bought baby albums for my daughters, where all I had to do was fill in the blanks; even though I actually had store-bought ones for them. I probably should have used them, I would’ve been done long ago.

In fact, my oldest daughter’s store-bought book was almost finished, but it was before I knew about the way to “properly” scrapbook. With that book, I committed the second worst scrapbooker’s sin after using “magnetic” albums: I stapled everything into the book.

If you read last week’s column, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about this again. It’s just taken me a long time to work out the details of these albums and has consumed my being. It’s all in the name of emptying a few plastic bins for my daughter to take to college. I bought preprinted scrapbooking pages back when my daughters were toddlers. Now I have to dig deep to remember my intention for those albums.

Finally, last Thursday I found my groove. I picked up my youngest daughter’s album looking for a page I had created. It was only in her album because I had been stressed about whether I had a picture of my youngest for every month of her first year, so I made a collage of them.

With your oldest, you’re like a baby paparazzi, snapping pictures at every breath they take. With the younger kids, you’re so busy with the older kids, they get a little less Kodak moment time.

I know for some of you picture taking is not a concern, nor are baby albums or school albums. I think it’s a hobby you’re either into or you’re not. I’m a big recorder of time, especially of my kids’ moments, so it weighs heavily on my mind.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my youngest daughter’s album and not only found the page I had previously created, but that much of the album was completed. To me that’s like finding a $100 bill in a coat pocket. Now I essentially have a blueprint off which to work for my oldest daughter’s album.

I have to admit, part of what has been hanging me up, besides my lack of photographic skills those early days, was reliving my children’s baby years. They were good years, but a bit chaotic as I navigated early motherhood. It was with both joy and pain that I looked through all those pictures: remembering what was; knowing my kids are growing up and on the threshold of leaving home.

As I was flipping through the album looking at the pages’ themes, I got to the place titled “Firsts.” I had a few pictures already in there: first steps, first drink out of a sippy cup. As I searched for more, I was both grinning and grimacing while reliving those times when I was mostly concerned about keeping them alive and healthy. I found her first bites of food, her first Christmas, first Easter, first birthday.

I was trying to organize it all when I got a text from her. She was at the high school helping the drama club clean out the props closet: “We’re done early, we heading out to our friend’s house.”

Me: “As of yesterday you are legal to drive other kids. Make sure it’s okay with their parents. Be careful.”

Daughter: “I will.”

Ten or fifteen minutes later, she texted that they had made it safely. I texted back and told her to take a picture of that momentous event.

I’m going to put in it her baby book under “Firsts.”

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is still snapping photos of her children’s firsts. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week under the Lifestyles section.

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