I have always been a sentimental person, but when my dad passed away when I was 16… the intensity of that sentiment grew. It changed me. It dawned on me how short and fleeting life is, and to not take things for granted. There are so many questions I wish I could’ve asked him; so many conversations we will never get to have. When he passed away, I was still at an age where I saw him purely as my dad, and not as the man he grew to be with his own wants, desires, needs, and hurts.
When the realization finally hit that my parents were not the invincible, authority figures who always had the answers, it was too late for me and my dad. I wish I could’ve known the man he was when he was in his 20s and 30s. I wish I had the chance to understand his heart a little better… to know him beyond just his role as my dad.
Out of these experiences stem the desire to create keepsakes for my children. I try to leave snippets of me here and there, so they can “get to know” me through the ages. That is my hope when I write to my children. Even I don’t know what I’ll be like 10 years from now, but surely I will have become a more evolved, changed me. I want them to know the young me, the carefree me, the silly me, the broken me. I want them to know what they were, are, and always will be to me.
I also do these things to preserve them. Sometimes I find myself just staring at them, as if by willing I can actually pause time. I don’t want to forget how they were at the ages of 1, 2, 3, and beyond… but I know I will. Some things are already fading, and it’s only been a few years. Noelle just turned 4, and my heart is in pieces. The months leading up to 4 have been fabulous, and I get sad when I think that this will all soon pass. I can’t make her stop growing. I’m starting to feel like her childhood will soon pass me by. That these moments with her always wanting me to snuggle, cuddle, and just be will be fewer and farther between. Of course there is still much to look forward to, but I still like to do what I can to bottle up time.
Thus, I write with as authentic a voice I can. I take pictures, I preserve. It’s the only way I know how to hold time in my hands.
These are some of the ways I’ve tried to capture little moments in time:
1. A Journal for each of my kids – I have two simple moleskin journals for each child. I love moleskin because it’s simple and compact. I use the front side to jot down snippets of noteworthy conversations I have with them. I use the backside to write yearly letters (or just random letters) to them. Hoping the two ends will meet in the middle someday, and I can hand them these journals on their 18th birthday.
2. Memory Trunks – I bought two medium-sized trunks at Home Goods one year, and I keep a myriad of stuff in there. Their going home outfits, first hanboks and chipaos (traditional Korean and Chinese outfits), baby books, ultrasound pictures, and so on. It’s not even that organized, I just throw things in there that I think might be cool for them to have someday. It’s like their very own time capsules.
3. Photobooks – For the longest time, my hard drive was a bottomless pit housing all my digital photos; and most rarely saw the light of day. Then I somehow found the time to figure out an easy way to organize and rearrange my digital photos, so I can turn them into actual, tangible albums that anyone can peruse at their leisure. In the world of digital media… actual photo albums are still a must for me! There are also really easy in-phone apps these days that make creating photo books a breeze, like Chatbook or Groovebook.
4. Personal Blog – I have been blogging for over 10 years. I remember when it was at the peak of its popularity and all my friends blogged, then Facebook and Twitter came along, and frequent status updates seemed to trump the lengthiness of blogging (I can’t believe there was a time before Facebook!). I still try to keep up with my personal blog as much as possible mainly for my children. It’s easier for me than journaling and creating photo books – plus it is words and pictures all in one place! I plan to turn my blog into a book one day and give it to my kids. Blurb and blog2print are just two examples of services you can use to do this.
5. Emails – I have an email account created for each of my kids, and it’s honestly the easiest way to write to them. A snippet here, a random paragraph there… then click send! I’m always on my computer, so whenever the mood strikes me – I will write them an email for them to read someday.
Are you big on preserving memories?