By Jill Caryl Weiner, Special to JenniferMargulis.net
“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love.”
– W. Somerset Maugham
My daughter just turned 15; my son is 11.
I am constantly amazed by them and totally given over to the fact that these mostly lovely, changing, growing, devouring individuals belong to my husband and myself for the time being.
They are ours only for a very short loan.
They’ll soon be out on their own.
I wasn’t always comfortable with the responsibilities of parenting, and I wasn’t always bonded with other parents.
I’ve Never Been Good At Change
In fact, I was kind of repelled by the whole motherhood thing.
When I was pregnant I was sure I wasn’t going to be like all those other moms. I was going to retain my identity. I wasn’t going to be obsessed over my baby’s poops; I was going to stay athletic, optimistic, independent.
I wanted to continue to grow my career as a journalist.
My husband and I were going to keep our spontaneous, romantic relationship alive.
No matter what happened, we were not going to change. (Of course we knew we’d have to change, but we still fought that idea like prizefighters in the twelfth round.) We were determined to be parents on our own terms.
My husband and I never expected parenthood to be seamless. It scared us. I have never been good at change. Neither has he. But we didn’t realize how deeply intertwined our evolution as parents was with our daughter’s well being.
When Willa was a newborn, it was a snap noting those one or two wet diapers a day.
Although I nursed her a lot, I didn’t realize that her cries meant she was hungry – I mean really hungry.
It took a lifetime—about two days—and a trip to the pediatrician for us to realize that Willa wasn’t getting enough food.
To solve this crisis, I had to let down my guard; let go of my fear. In order to let down my milk, I had to let go of the person I was protecting: my former self.
Those were the toughest days.
This precious life needed ME, but I had not become that ME yet. I wasn’t ready to embrace myself as a mother, but that didn’t matter, I was more than ready to embrace my newborn.
As my milk began to flow, and my daughter changed from a newborn to an infant and beyond, it was clear that we’d have to keep changing and reinventing ourselves to best support her—and then, later on, our son.
And I wanted to remember all the ways we changed and grew as a family in a memory book.
I Wanted A Memory Book But Couldn’t Find One On The Shelves
But I didn’t like the books I found on the shelves at the bookstore. They were too precious, had too many bunnies, were too matter of fact. They weren’t funny. They didn’t have a place for my husband; they couldn’t record our experience as a new family.
I received three baby journals as presents and didn’t fill them out.
One of the manythings that changed in my life when my daughter was born was my journalistic focus.
Instead of writing about sports, regional issues and people, I began to focus on writing about parenting because who else but those devoted to children would understand that I had to cut an interview short to take care of a toddler?
I gained a body of knowledge from writing about parenting and from my experiences as a parent. After about nine years of mostly focusing on writing about parenting, I knew the time was right for me to write a book.
And I knew exactly what that book would be: a whimsical reinvention of the memory book that looked at the parents’ milestones as well as the baby’s.
My book, When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family, is the book I didn’t get at the baby shower.
It starts with a fun yet meaningful section about the parents and how they met; then there’s a short pregnancy section (that includes which of the seven pregnant dwarves were you: Sleepy, Moody, Happy, Hungry, Queasy, Grumpy) and arguments the couple has had (like which team’s miniature jerseys Baby would wear and what colors to paint the nursery.)
When We Became Three continues just past the first two years of baby’s life.
It’s easy to fill out with checklists, prompts, and space for details and photos.
Record What’s Really Important
My wish is to encourage parents to record what’s really important: not so much the dates but the feelings and experiences behind them.
Plus it’s romantic and fosters communication between parents. (WWBT recently inspired an article in Psychology Today.com about the importance of communication between parents.) And it has room for many types of babies as well as many parenting styles.
For example, it will explain to baby’s future self: if you were a baby animal you’d be … a piranha – always eating and sniping at mom; a koala – cuddly and always snoozing; a puppy – joyous and mischievous; or a howler monkey- constantly wailing. Parents can describe themselves during their first month of parenting as: sleep-deprived zombies; scientists tracking meals, poops, and sleep; surfer dudes going with the flow; nervous nellies not quite sure what to do; or astronomers who found a new universe of love.
There’s space to add other options and multiple checks are welcome.
It turns out I did want to join the mama club I was so leery of all those years ago.
I love being bonded to this community of parents. Just as my children are only on loan to me before they head out to join the world, this book was also only mine for a short time.
It is now free in the world.
Good luck my adorable, affordable book: travel the country or the world, have a lot of adventures, capture lots of memories and make a lot of people happy.
I hope you’ll check it out.
Thanks, Jennifer, for letting me post about it.
Last Updated: May 17, 2018
Jill Caryl Weiner has written on a broad range of parenting and education-related subjects from homeschooling and kids playing chess for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to innovative educational apps and decorating a pregnant belly for Time Out New York Kids and Mom365. She lives in New York with her husband and two children. Lean more at her website: www.jillcarylweiner.com. Follow Jill on Twitter: @Jillcarylweiner.