My first daughter was born before I had a cellphone, back in the days before the ability to photo-journalize an infant’s first days were convenient, or perhaps, even available to the average person. I took a lot of photos on my camera and shared them with friends and family. But I wanted more. I was so in awe of this little human that I wanted to remember everything she did. I also wanted to track when she ate and slept, because I was utterly terrified of her not getting everything she needed. So I took a notebook and wrote down when she ate and slept each day, and then on the bottom of the page, I wrote a paragraph or two about what she did.
Even on the most sleep-deprived days, I wrote something, even if it was just: “It rained all day today, and we stayed inside. Amanda was happy and slept the most she ever has. Then Nanny came to visit and Amanda slept in Nanny’s arms for a hour while Nanny sang ‘Camptown Races.’ ”
Simple, right? It required no creative thought whatsoever, which was great, because I knew I could keep it up, and I did for the first full year. With my second daughter, I think I made it until nearly a year, but with my last-born son, it may have been more like six months. Still, when I read back those snippets now, it is such a wonderful snapshot of our lives that I only wish I had continued doing it as they grew older.
I especially wish I chronicled their first few days of school. I wish I had simply written down the muddled phrases and sentences that Amanda exchanged with her new, little 5-year-old classmates who would become lifelong friends. There is something amazing about hearing the dialogue exchanged during memorable events years later. Of course, you can likely just take out your phone now and take video if the circumstances and teachers allow it, but there is something wonderfully simple about writing it all down.
Every September, I get nostalgic about back-to-school season, and even though I am well past the first day of preschool and kindergarten with my kids, I remember all the feelings surrounding those days — both my kids’ and mine — and chronicling that is a treasure, too.
So, if you are gearing up to send your little one off into the world on the first day of school, absolutely take your phone, and snap as many photos as you can, but when you get home, and it’s just you there reflecting on what just happened and how your little baby is going to be away from you all day, grab a notebook, and jot it all down. Years from now, you’ll be glad you did — and so will they!
Danielle Sullivan is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @Deewrite.
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