Before my daughter was born I bought a pregnancy and baby book to fill in. And then found a bigger, better baby book, and then another that was birth to five years. Suddenly I had five different baby books, all staring at my from their spot on the shelf, judging me for forgetting to fill in their empty pages. Did I remember to write down the day of baby’s first smile? Her first tooth? The first time she had a bath, rolled over, sat up and danced a jig?
My half-assed attempt to record everything fell by the wayside when exhaustion reared its formidable head – which it did often. I could barely remember what day it was, let alone to write notes down in the baby books. And then, my fear of missing milestones (hence to be known as FOMM) kicked in, and anxiety forced me to try and write down and photograph every tiny detail in my young daughter’s life.
Turns out FOMM is a powerful motivator. Tormented by Pinterest and its lure of onesies with months counted off on them, I still persisted in my attempts to be the mum who does it all. I constantly questioned though, did I have a good enough plan to adequately document every single important moment of my child’s life? Apparently not, as, with my now three-year-old, I see blog posts and tutorials on hand prints taken every month from birth, and realise I’ve missed the boat. I don’t have any hand prints of my baby thus far. I didn’t video any of her birthday parties. I haven’t put together any scrapbooks or albums to celebrate her life thus far. Definitely no shadow boxes on the wall with outgrown baby shoes and locks of hair. In my role as keeper of her childhood memories, have I failed at my job already? Oh, FOMM, there you are, kicking me when I’m already down.
Then reality sinks in. This new phenomena of the need to make every single moment of your child’s life documentable and beautiful is a new one. The arranging of bedding and props for the perfect Instagramable moment, the casting of tiny hands and feet in bronze for the wall. There are no hand and foot prints on display in my parents’ home, no locks of hair, no family art projects on the walls. And do I wish there were? Honestly, no, I don’t. The truth is I’m far to concerned with looking forwards to dwell in my own past. So if we’re not documenting and photographing for the benefits of our kids, who are we going to this immense effort for?
The rise of social media platforms like Pinterest and blogs have created a new “keeping up with the Joneses”, but in this case, the “Jones family” is a crafty mum with too much time on their hands and loves posting pictures of her clever bento box lunch art. We share and comment on these images, blog posts and pins, marvel at the complexity and the cleverness, but deep down, feel our own lack of creativity and commitment to making our children’s memories magical.
Are we raising our children in a pastel pink shiny world where it’s normal to have parties that are “Pinterest-worthy” and have books and albums videos documenting every single breath they took? And would they want us to? Is FOMM stopping us from letting our kids enjoy just being kids, and keeping us, as parents, at a distance in order to capture these moments?
Are we doing our children favours by implying to them that they are so important that we dedicated ourselves to this documentation, this making of sandwiches in the shape of Hello Kitty to entice them to eat (at the same tie as broadcasting to the world what devoted and clever clogs we are)? I think not.
And yet. I am trapped in the cycle myself. Writing down cute things she says. Photographing every day. Pinning ideas for her next birthday party. Watching from the outside instead of playing, laughing and participating. Maybe tomorrow is a good day to start anew and make memories instead of just documenting them.
Linking up with Bron.
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!