My daughter washed her own hair the other night. She’s only 2 ½.
Of course I was right there in the bathroom with her. But she took a cup and poured water on her hair to wet it. I lathered the soap into her hair, although I’m sure I’ll soon be deemed superfluous for that step. Then she put her head under the faucet and expertly rinsed it without getting any water in her eyes.
How on earth did we get here already? Just the other week I was saw her plastic infant bathtub in our basement, and I thought about all the stages we’ve been through: Bathing her in a sling above the tiny tub, then in the tub itself, then sitting up in the sink and finally to our deep bathtub, but only with towels on the bottom to and my hands on her at all times. It feels like I’ll wake up tomorrow, and she’ll be 13 years old and the only part I’ll play in her bathing will be to remind her to hang up the towels after she’s done.
When you start a family, every one who has been a parent for a while urges you to appreciate every moment, because time flies by quicker than you can imagine. If clichés are only clichés because they are true, then that has to be the truest advice every spoken because … how did it get to be 2011 again?
I do appreciate every moment – even the moments that are headache-inducing now, I realize will have a certain charm 10 or 20 years down the road, like her insistence on turning nearly every wardrobe change into a game of “Catch Me if You Can.”
But what bothers me most is that I can’t remember everything, that there are already wonderful little moments I’ve forgotten. Johanna was less than a year old when I was trying to tell a friend who doesn’t have children about how I wished I could tape every single moment of her life so that I would never forget a single aspect of it. But even before I could finish the sentence I realized how ridiculous it is – if I was worrying about taping every moment and re-watching that tape, when exactly would we create new wonderful little moments?
So I make do with lots of cell phone pictures, and get out the nice camera pretty regularly. The Flip video camera gets a heavy workout in our house, too.
Still, given the nature of my profession, I obviously treasure the written word.
I kept a diary as a child and through much of high school, but as an adult I’ve never gotten back into the habit. I was always just too exhausted at the end of the day. And that was even before I became a mom.
One sentence a day? I could do that. And I have, for about a week now.
I repurposed a little journal with a lovely red leather cover that I’d bought years ago when I thought I’d get my own diary kick going again. Every night, usually while her dad is reading her a story, I write a bit about what we did that day, or something funny she said. I’ve yet to write just a sentence – most entries are about 10 sentences long – but knowing that I can makes is feel very do-able.
I like the idea of recording the little moments that otherwise could get lost in the hustle and bustle of our days. I know memory doesn’t work like this, but when I imagine my brain, my effort to remember PIN numbers and grocery lists are like an avalanche crowding out sweet, happy moments I want to treasure.
But now, thanks to my one-sentence journal, I’ll always remember that in March 2011, as we headed to the car after a very fun day at a library, she turned to me and said out of the blue, “Mom, we had a good day today!”
So I think tonight I might just have to write about her washing her own hair in the bathtub – before she decides to tell me that she really is grown up enough for showers now.
Go West readers: Do you worry about forgetting the small moments in your children’s lives? How do you cope? Scrapbooks? Lots of photos? A calendar?
Tara Burghart is the editor and founder of Go West Young Mom. Most weeks she writes a column called “Simple, Really?” examining why simplifying her life seems to be a complex undertaking. She has kept all her diaries from childhood and reading them usually puts a smile on her face, but sometimes makes her wish she could go back in time to reassure a 12-year-old Tara that being popular in junior high really isn’t a measure of future success.