So much of parenthood seems to be about capturing firsts: the first smile, the first steps, the first haircut… all those adorable milestones destined for memorialization in the most guilt-inducing item ever marketed by the Maternal Industrial Complex: the baby book.

Baby Bear’s book sits on a shelf in his room. Prince Charming and I dutifully filled out our biographical information, and I may have extended myself so far as to fill in BB’s vital birth stats and a few early triumphs. But more than two years later, I’m pretty sure that his milestones peter out after a fuzzy guess at when he first pulled up. And despite the rather strident encouragement of the book (“Paste footprints here” — the “you lazy beast” goes unspoken but plainly understood) none of them are documented with pictures, ticket stubs, pressed flowers or fancy stamps.

It’s not that I’ve spent the time in some self-indulgent swoon on the couch, waking every so often to notice that our home has become inexplicably filled with primary-colored plastic. It’s that with limited time and energy, especially while I was working, I often chose to triage my parenting. To my mind, I could spend the precious weekend naptime hours dutifully logging, documenting and color-matching. Or I could fold laundry, clean the tub, find a Halloween costume, make baby food, put away outgrown clothes, or even(!) sleep or talk to my husband.

I still paid attention. I vividly remember the first time Baby Bear sat unassisted. And I remember spending the week after Christmas watching him learn to crawl, each day getting closer and closer to the booty displayed under the tree. The new skills, the new words, the blossoming — nay, exploding — personality… I’ve filed them all away in my heart. On occasion, I’ve even been organized enough to remember to grab the camera as well. But still… it bothers me that none of the images I have in my head (or languishing on my hard drive) have made it into gingham-bound posterity.

Perhaps now that I have time to breathe again, I’ll pull the baby book down, chisel off the dust and bring it up to date. Or maybe I’ll leave it where it is and opt to spend a glorious fall afternoon at the park, chucking rocks into the stream in a quest to find the one that makes the biggest splash. If there’s no spot in the book for that, there should be.

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