When I first became a parent at the ripe age of 19, I had lots of aspirations in my mind about the kinds of things I’d do with my daughter – and the parent I’d become.
I had dreams of lazy walks to the park, where we’d look at the birds as they flew by and then we’d lay down on a picnic blanket and pick out shapes in the clouds above us. But what actually happened was worlds apart from what I had envisioned in my head.
It was more like this: I would walk down the road with my daughter, who was crying in her pram and throwing her toys onto the road, one by one. Then we’d arrive at the park, and she’d do a big poo and eat a handful of bark and dirt while I attempted to change her outfit, which was totally soiled.
Expectation vs reality
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, as parents, the way we imagine things is often a far cry from how they transpire in reality.
Another example of this was my dream of recording all my daughter’s “firsts” into a beautifully ornate baby book. When it was just her and me – it was quite manageable, if you don’t count the grabby little hands that attempted to thwart my every move or the photos that fell out. But as my husband and I began to expand our family – my desire to record every single tiny thing into a book for each of my four daughters began to disappear. It was hard enough keeping track of their clean clothes let alone attempting to print off and paste photos! But I still wanted to keep track of their milestones and have something for each of them to look back on.
Read more about milestones:
- 7 milestones I’m REALLY looking forward to with my last child
- Toddler milestones – what to expect beyond babyhood
- 10 gorgeous ways to track your favourite baby’s milestones
One day, while I was stuck under my third daughter’s hot and sticky little body, breastfeeding her to sleep, an idea came to me. What if I could email my daughters? It would be a non-material and easily accessible way to keep track of special events in their life. It wouldn’t take up much time, but it would allow me to keep track of time.
Digital baby book
So that’s what I did. Putting aside their half-filled baby books, I began emailing my daughters every time something significant happened; anytime they said something to me that I wanted to remember, I’d write them an email.
To be more precise, I created a secret email account for each of my four girls, which only my husband and I had the passwords to. Each time I email them, I write their age in the subject line, and I always finish the email with “Love, Mama.” Over the years, the emails have grown, and when they’re 18 or 21, I plan to give them the password to their email account so they can read it for themselves. The emails are filled with photos and anecdotes, stories and events of the things that have happened in each of their lives. It has been a really simple, beautiful way to document and record the stuff that I would have otherwise forgotten.
Marvel at what you’ve been up to
In a way, I guess I write the emails for myself too. As a mum, some days can drag on and seem like they take forever: the never-ending tricky phases and those sleepless nights that feel like they’ll never end. Until one day, they do. And then you sit back and realise how far you have come as a mother, and marvel at what you and your child have been up to.
I am encouraged to slow down and take a moment to be grateful for my girls, and the wonderful things they say and do. And the best thing about that is, I can do it anywhere – anytime.