Parenting is an exercise in experiencing the fluidity of time. Days crawl on, yet one summer day you go to sleep and wake up to a cool winter morning, the time in between nothing but a blur. The kids are barely crawling one second, saying their first words the next, then somehow reprimanding you in full sentences before you know it ("Mommy, you have to wake up and make me brekkie don't sleep so long!") It feels like I'm constantly playing catch up on all the milestones. I was never good at keeping baby books, that epitome of a good mother in my mind, the kind of woman who records the precious moments to be immortalized in the form of beautiful photos and charming handwriting. So anything less than that had always felt—well, less than.
Then I read this article at the beginning of the year and realized that documenting is just documenting. One is no better than the other. The author approaches this exercise as a way of catching stories, and it feels accurate from the perspective of capturing moments of your kids. So often, my husband and I share stories at the end of the day about—well, our kids. And it's never the grand, epic stuff that make us laugh. Just as the author said, "even if that moment seemed boring, benign, uninspiring, and not worthy of telling at all," it's those very nuggets that take us right into that moment.
Like an invitation or a trigger, the snippet "Playing with markers. 'I look like daddy!'" takes me back to the living room, where I was tidying something while the kids were drawing. My son, 4 at the time, was naked for some reason and had taken a black marker and drawn all over his face. I almost wanted to get mad when he got my attention, but he had the biggest goofiest grin on his face and said, "I look like daddy!" referring to the markers looking like a beard. I remember forgetting for a second that the markers were NOT washable and he'll likely have that on his face for a while, and instead laughed with him. I like remembering this moment, which would've been forgotten, for the silliness and for the reminder to find the humor in any situation with kids.
While an Excel spreadsheet as the article suggested seemed too impermanent for my taste (will Google one day go bankrupt? Will all the clouds go down at the same time?? What really, is the cloud??) I focused on this idea of one-line documentation. It seemed doable, and also, just enough. So I set out in search of the right medium and landed on the weekly planner.
Like a diary, it's dated so I don't have to remember to date it, and with limited writing space per day. It's slim enough for a small footprint and less pressure for flowery prose. There's also room on the side for notes, where I'd expand on an especially memorable or interesting moment, doodle some, or use it as a "catch-up" space to record anything where I remember it happening but not quite on what day that I had missed. Each day, when I remember, I sit down with the planner and write something funny or milestone-y that the kids did that day.
The Hobonichi Weekly is perfect for this, and the limited edition covers that have brought me so much joy. It'll look very nice on a shelf one day, in my fantasy where this continues on for years and years, amassing a collection of dozens of planners. I started this year, and have my 2024 one ready to go.
When I'm having a bad day, contemplating whether to sell my kids to the circus or the zoo, I flip through the pages for a nice chuckle and it reminds me that yes, these infuriating little assholes are kind of the best things to happen to my life. When my daughter said "No probem (problem)!" to a request of mine, I laughed at how confident she looked as she dragged a stool from goodness knows where to fetch something off the counter. Or the day that my son said "remote" instead of "merote" for the first time, and I missed how much the error had always brought a smile to my face. It's cliché, but they really do grow up so fast, and these little details are like grains of sand that slip through the cracks of my already pulled-too-thin brain. Like a love letter to my future self, I hope that the planner will let me hold onto at least some of it.
Like the first time my daughter cursed, a fully formed, passionate insult to her brother, exclaiming, "He's not my brother anymore because he's a fucking shit!" Oh yes, mama is so proud