Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Be the Memory Keeper

After we read books at bedtime, my daughter often asks, "Mom, can you tell me the story of when I was born?" She loves to hear about how she cried right away, and how the doctor said, "Oh, she's so strong!" (She's also interested in how exactly she got out of my belly, but we're glossing that part over for, oh, say, the next 10 years!)

When I visit my niece, too, she often asks for me to tell stories of when she was little. Since she was adopted, we don't really have the full details of her birth, but we try our best to recount a story that is as close to what happened as we know from the info we do have. And, of course, we have lots of cute stories from when she was little and called me "cheechay," and called Flannery her "baby panawee cousin."

There's something mysterious and magical about hearing happy stories about yourself when you were too little to remember everything. I hope that my daughter and niece create a life story in their head that includes how everyone around them cherished them, and enjoyed them, and regarded them as interesting at every stage of their growing up.

My sister has done a good job of being the "memory keeper" for her daughter. She saves artwork and school papers, takes pictures of every little fun outing, and made an adorable scrapbook of my niece's life so far.

I, on the other hand, am pretty good about taking pictures, but poor Flannery's artwork and school papers are strewn all over our house in random stacks and bins, with virtually no hope of ever being labeled with the correct date for posterity. Also, I recently discovered that the storage container labeled "for Flannery's scrapbook" in our storage closet actually holds random pictures from my high school, college, wedding, and grad school days, with a few photos and pieces of artwork on top that really are for her scrapbook.

Yup. I am an organizational wizard.

Anyway, I was inspired by a clearance sale on adorable Scrapbooks at Target today, and I took the plunge. I bought a scrapbook. A cute, girly, striped pink and green and brown scrapbook.

Then, I came home, and while Flannery was napping, I started organizing the few mementos I've saved for her so far into coherent scrapbook groupings. Like a lot of projects I keep putting off because I "don't have enough time," I was amazed at how quickly the project started coming together. In about an hour, I had about 10 groupings that I can one day turn into cute little pages about such topics as "the great-grandmothers," "with the grandparents," "Easter," and, my favorite, "how I've grown" (featuring paint-handprints from various ages).

I really can't believe how quickly my unorganized box of stuff became a project in-process.

And I'm excited to sit down and document some happy memories that can become part of Flannery's life story in her head.

What memories from your childhood help you define yourself?

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