A Letter to My Child About Your Unfinished Baby Book


Why I didn't finish your baby book via @lizzylit

Dear darling,

I’m haunted by this nightmare where you come to me as an insecure preteen and ask, “Mom, can I see my baby book? I need some dates and things for a school project.”

Choking back tears of shame, I dig out a dusty blue and yellow book. You pluck it from my guilty hands. A few souvenirs and ragged coloring pages slip out. To you, they look random, unimpressive, disorganized, but I remember: That’s the first time you drew a circle. That smiley-faced blob there? The picture you drew of me on our third Mother’s Day. That thumbprint collage? Your first preschool art project.

unfinished baby book @lizzylit

You flip through, and I know what you’re seeing: A handful of haphazard photos, too many half-empty pages. I try to distract you with the highlights: There’s an ultrasound photo—that grainy peanut is your very first picture . . . There’s a coming-home-from-the-hospital shot; you’re swaddled, pink and scrunchy, in the striped hospital blanket . . . Look, twenty-six pictures from your epic first birthday party . . . A few play dates at the park . . . And then we skip ahead to your first day of preschool (that stain there? definitely raindrops, not tears) . . . er, one blurry shot from preschool graduation . . . Okay, let’s keep moving.

In the margins, you’ll find a few handwritten notes:

Seven weeks: Still not sleeping, but oh, that smile!

Five months: You must be teething. You drool through four outfits a day.

Eight months: You love bananas, your daddy, the dog, and screeching at the top of your lungs.

Eleven months: You lunged forward today, trying to pinch the dog. First step? Maybe?

Twenty-two months: You got into the magic markers. I need a new kitchen table.

Twenty-nine months: I wish I could give your pacifiers back. You miss them so much.

Three years: You got your first princess dress today. You smiled so big, I thought your cheeks might pop. 

Seven years old: Pinkeye AND lice on the same day. I’m still twitching.

You flip to the back pages. The tooth chart is woefully empty. I managed to jot down the month when your first tooth came in—not the day, I couldn’t remember which day—and then I drew a sad little frowny-face when it came back out again, five years later.

The how-we-celebrated-your-first-five-birthdays section? Well, I did a killer job on the first birthday—see the pictures? see the cake I spent three days researching on Pinterest and sculpting in the shape of Elmo?—after that, the birthday party pages are all blank.

Worst of all, I picture you flipping to the chart of firsts, that page where I’m supposed to write down every first from your First Year of Life, and even some milestones from your toddler years. Your baffled gaze runs down the page, finding only a few scattered notes. You’ll never know the exact date you spoke your first word, or which day that first pointy tooth poked through, or how much you weighed at your eighteen-month doctor visit.

And I picture your expression crumpling in confusion, an accusation etched in your eyes as you glare at me, mystified and hurt: You don’t love me enough. If you really loved me, you would have made me a baby book I could be proud of. You would have written down all of the things so we could remember them. Didn’t you care?

And I’ll try to explain, to help you understand:

I didn’t write down exactly which day you spoke your first word because I was too busy clapping, too busy savoring the sweet sound of that voice I’d been trying to coax out of you for so long. You were so excited, so proud of yourself, and you wanted me to listen. And I did.

There wasn’t time to mark down which day your first tooth came in because you were so fussy that you wouldn’t let me put you down. You just wanted me to snuggle you and rock you and sing to you. And I did.

I forgot to record how much you weighed at every doctor visit, because after all the prodding and shots, you were always tired and grumpy, and so was I. And so I got my coffee and you got your chocolate milk and we called it a day. We just cuddled on the couch and watched Elmo until we both felt better. And we did.

I didn’t write down what we ate at your second birthday party, because I’d learned my lesson from the first party—a blur, the whole grand cake-sculpting affair—so for the next few years, I got a store-bought cake, inflated balloons with my own breath, blew some bubbles, and crazy-danced with you and a few friends. I put down my camera and watched joy twinkle in your eyes while you played silly games and tore open gifts. When it was all over, you wanted to ignore your presents, ball up the wrapping paper, and have a wrapping-paper fight. And we did.

I didn’t actually forget to take pictures of your preschool graduation. It’s just, my eyes were so cloudy, I couldn’t focus the lens right. But I tried.

And every time I found a spare rainy afternoon and thought to myself, “I could catch up on the baby book today,” a chubby fist tugged on my pant leg, a sunbeam smile flashed up at me, and a little voice lisped, “Come play with me, Mommy.” And I did.

Why I didn't finish your baby book


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

You Can Go Now, Mommy

These Days of Small Things

Freeze-Frame

My new book, When God Says “Wait”

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to my quarterly newsletter! As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a free chapter from When God Says “Wait,” and a free download with 7 two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table with kids! 

This article first appeared on The Huffington Post. 

 


Now I Lay Her Down to Sleep (the Honest Version)


Please, God, make this baby sleep


Now I Lay Her Down to Sleep

(the Honest Version)

 

Now I lay her down to sleep,

I beg the Lord, “Eight hours, please!

May angels watch her through the night,

and keep her eyelids sealed up tight.

If she should cry before I wake,

just once, Lord, let the monitor break.” 

 

Wishing all my fellow parents eight hours of undisturbed sleep—tonight and every night . . .

Elizabeth Laing Thompson signature

P.S. Photo credit goes to my friend Julie Moon, who is not only a talented photographer, but an organizing genius who blogs at Neat & Pretty.


In case you want to pin this, or share it with a fellow sleep-deprived mom . . . here are graphics of a boy version and girl version of this poem! Happy sleeping.

Now I Lay Him Down to Sleep (The Honest Version-Boy) - when babies won't sleep

Now I Lay Her Down to Sleep (The Honest Version-Girl)-baby sleep schedules


Freeze-Frame


Freeze-frame

Across the room you catch my eye,
bouncy curls bobbing, glinting sun,
chubby hands clutching, waving spoon,
secret laugh bubbling, casting joy,
and I want to stop time,
freeze-frame your innocence,
your toddlerhood,
this moment,
forever.

So I try.

I pick up the camera.
Snap.
Reframe.
Zoom.
Adjust the lighting.
Try another angle.
Snap again
and again
and again.

But I cannot capture
the way the fading sun fingers your golden curls,
painting a second sunset in my kitchen;
the way the twinkle in your honey eyes sparks,
and I see my grandmother winking there;
the way your coy giggle spins and curls and winds
across the room, around my heart.

At last, suddenly wiser, I stop trying.

I put down the camera,
and sit down across from you,
and drink you in,
and share your secret joke,
and we laugh,
and I know, somehow,
that I have finally caught the moment,
and my heart will always remember.

poetry about motherhood


Fun Friday Post: Bouquet


a child's bouquet

Bouquet

Elizabeth Laing Thompson

Weeds upon my windowsill,

tickled by a breeze,

gifts from chubby, grubby hands,

picked with pride for me.

Bruised by clumsy, eager fists,

petals all askew,

still they bob and wink and wave

and whisper, “She loves you.”

 

Poetry for mothers...when children pick flowers

 

When children pick flowers


Room for Two


Suitcase for two:

Miniature hat—dwarfed by the palm of my hand,

For a head that has never seen the sun;

Diapers—impossibly, laughably small,

For a little bottom that likes to play bumper cars with my ribs;

Tiny socks, tucked next to mine,

For toes that have never felt the cool, almost-spring air.

I hold them up, chuckle… but then I think,

If I don’t pack you socks, who will?

In a rush, the weight hits me—the profound, couched in the mundane:

 

Your feet, cold and tinged with blue, will be mine to warm;

Your body, unfathomably small, mine to clothe;

Your bottom, baby soft as they say, mine to diaper;

Your life, priceless and unwritten, mine to guide;

Your heart, never wounded, never betrayed, mine to protect.

Alone but together, I check in: “Room for two, please.”

In the corner, your pint-sized bed waits.

Check-in as one, check-out as two:

No instruction manual, no warranty, no receipt for return or exchange,

Just a smile and “Congratulations! Good luck!”

And a balloon.

Ride for two:

We roll out to greet the wide wondrous whelming hope-saturated universe.

Two lives, forever entwined, blinking in the welcoming sun.

I sigh, the weight of the world, a shiny new life, cradled in my arms.

Silently, I pray that the world will make room for two—room for you.