When my publisher first asked me to write a weekly column about the bleary-eyed but abundantly blessed experience that is parenting, I was fresh off the heels of my first maternity leave.

I’d been a parent a few short months, but my list of lessons already learned, pumping dysfunctions and comical adventures was absolutely endless.

I quickly accepted the task, because I was eager to share extraordinary can’t-make-thisstuffup mama mishaps and tribulations with our readers.

But even more enticing than jumping into written wit was the opportunity to record these stories for my family, stories that’d be too numerous to remember for the long run.

Not until one is fully immersed in new, uncharted parenthood waters is it realized that parenting is truly an evertransforming journey in the making, filled with everything from profound moments to poo jokes, and it is these very nuances that make one’s family story sincerely unique.

 

 

Birthing classes and parenting literature point you toward the starting line, but they don’t teach you everything. This is why, my friends, we have to write down our experiences, so that we can re-read these little moments later on. Parenting today falls within the good fortune of having nonstop snapshot-taking at our disposal.

By the time our firstborn arrived home from the hospital, he’d already been photographed more times than the total number of photos in my own entire baby album.

Documenting, visually, is a different world today from yesterday’s film developing.

But what’s always captivated me about my faded box of baby albums is that my mother wrote little notes in the margins of my baby book she’d so painstakingly assembled. These brief passages are what amuse me most.

In one side note in the periphery of my second birthday photographs, my mother detailed that I often pronounced my ‘th’ sounds like ‘f’, and described her horror when I attempted a ‘Thank You’ to my paternal grandparents. What can I say? Our household was predominantly French-speaking, and the ‘th’ sound is not really part of French linguistics. Nevertheless, that moment rendered me labeled as a foulmouthed tot.

I figured out my sounds eventually. But I digress.

This just shows one of the many little nuances that wouldn’t otherwise be captured in a photograph.

Had my mother not recorded small bits of commentary about our childhood habits and mini-milestones, they’d be forever forgotten.

There are just so many mini-phases that take place as kiddos today rapidly transition from newborn to tot and beyond. It would be to our benefit– and even amusement– to journal what we can, before short-lived phases quickly fade, replaced by newer, wittier stages.

Think of your children’s early speech patterns and habits, or your biggest anxieties that turned out to be small potatoes in hindsight.

We all know kids say the darnedest things, and so we should jot down these quips while they’re fresh in memory, even if abbreviated in a bedside notepad. For those who don’t like to write, there are downloadable apps designed specifically to mark down sweet moments at one’s convenience.

So observe what happens and write it down.

Photos tell a story, but they don’t tell the whole story.

The entries you keep will range from outrageous to poignant to events not suitable for shouting from the social medial rooftops.

But one day, you’ll look back upon these moments stitched together that form the pages of a story that’s uniquely yours.

You may even find that what worried you at one time makes you laugh today.

Like a fine wine, these stories will get better with age.

So write your family’s story, no matter how grammatically incorrect your writing or seemingly insignificant the occurrences.

You’ll devour these jotted notes years later to help fill in the gaps when memory no longer can, and your future generations will be the ones who benefit most.

— Michelle Cote is the art director of the Journal Tribune. She enjoys cooking, baking, and living room dance-offs with her husband, two boys and a dog. She can be contacted at [email protected]


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