A recent DoubleX Gabfest episode started with a conversation around toddlers and talking. The hosts were talking with Margaret Talbot about her New Yorker article, The Talking Cure, which looks at a Providence RI program that seeks to teach lower income parents about the importance of talking to their toddlers.* The article is an interesting one but toward this segment of Gabfest, Talbot mentions more recent research by Unequal Childhoods author Annette Lareau which essentially says some upper class parents tend to be on their phones more...which is apparently just as problematic as not talking to their toddlers. Getting how mind numbing it can be to care for a a baby, my mind drifted toward the idea of keepsakes.
Perhaps like me you kept a log early on dedicated to your baby. Mine was a simple notebook with basics (how many wet diapes, how many poopie ones) and moved into more interesting behaviors like first smiles or how long she would permit her daily tummy time. Somewhere around six months I stopped simply recording what Elisabeth did and started blogging my thoughts about her and parenting. I continued to take photos of course. Last August, I began to use the Evernote app to capture words and phrases that Elisabeth said. None of these are traditional "keepsakes" but they serve a similar purpose of helping record a life or event.
We're inclined to take photos of our babies. Our smart phones are nearby, equipped with a more than decent camera, ready for anything. Lord knows, we pay enough each month for them, it can feel justified that they are attached to our hip! Many of us (me included) are also inclined to post descriptions of cute things that our child did or said on various social media sites. Technology makes everything easy. Until we get lose it, break it or...it breaks us, that is. When every mom I know seems to wish for more hours in the day, "easy" is a no-brainer. Instagram, for example, is easy to use and hard to give up. It's not just a way to share a picture of with your sister three states away but also a way for you to stay in touch, see her kids playing and where she and her partner went to dinner. It's a connection. But do we need different kinds of keepsakes, other than our electronic ones?
I don't think there is one answer to that question. For some of us, no, we don't need keepsakes other than the electronic ones that we use. But for others, the answer is "yes". And I don't think it's complicated to determine which category you're in.
- Are you the DIY type? Do you like to scrapbook, write with a pen on actual paper or immerse yourself in paints, chalks, pastels? Are you at home with scissors and fabric, humming away on a project that isn't intended for public consumption? If this sounds like you, then creating a non-electronic keepsake may be a good idea.
- Are you more of an extrovert than introvert? Someone who likes being "out there"? Someone who appreciates others' shares and prefers to share with a larger number of people more often. Would you rather categorize the photos you took into albums on your computer OR print and put them into a scrapbook? If this feels more like you, then carry on with your Facebook posts, blogging and whatever else you're doing
While we might recognize bits of ourself in both "types", I think one is more like us than another. The challenge comes in owning whichever type that is and making it happen. It's never good if we find ourself acting more out of habit than true desire, if we post to Facebook when we'd really rather be writing in our journal. It's a trap we all fall into. I know I definitely do!
Do you have keepsakes of your child or children? If so, what are they? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.
* Research indicates that the amount you talk to your children basically depends on how much money you make. Working class families talk to their kids less, significantly less, than "professional" families do.