Rachel and Claire belong to me in a way they do not yet even belong to themselves. That is, they will not remember these earliest years of their own lives. When they finally reach an age to start collecting memories and secrets of their own, they will no longer be fully mine; I know this day is coming and I remind myself of this fact to help me treasure these days all the more.
I feel a weight of responsibility to collect these early years for them–to write in their little baby books the dates and times of all their notable milestones, to snap pictures of their adorable phases, to catch on video the cutest things they can do at any given moment. If they should want to regather these moments when they get older, try to flesh out the details of who they are and where they came from, I want to have these memorable events recorded and at the ready.
I purposely set the standards for record-keeping fairly low with Claire, knowing that I would have trouble keeping up a lot of traditions and rituals with a second baby and also knowing that I didn’t want to give my second child any reason to suspect I’d been less attentive to her life. Even with the bar set fairly low, I know I haven’t done an adequate job of recording Rachel’s life so far.
Forgive me, dear Rachel. I may not have recorded the specifics, but I have “pondered up all these things and treasured them in (my) heart.”*
Isaiah asks “Can a mother forget her nursing child?”** in the same rhetorical manner we might ask “Is the Pope Catholic?” He knew the answer was obvious. There is no way for a mother to forget the thousand tiny marvels of her baby. I may not remember the dates and times, but I cannot forget the weight of you in my arms or the quiver of your sad chin or a thousand other little sensory details from these early months and a thousand more that will happen before you take possession of your own memories.
This is the best that I can promise you, Claire and Rachel: I will be your rememberer… whether it is through methodical record-keeping, monthly photo shoots, or haphazard storytelling. There are many things I will not remember but there are even more things that I can never forget.