A Motherhood Journal

Just a few small details jotted down over time bring back a flood of memories.

Dear Diary

Her hair looked like cotton candy in the morning. When she first learned to make her way across a room, her walk was drunken, Chaplin-esque. She sucked on the tips of our noses. She laughed her very first laugh while dancing with me in the kitchen to "Johnny B. Goode."

I would have forgotten all of these things if I hadn't written them down in one safe place. I would have forgotten all about the nose sucking and the laughter. I would have forgotten "bwee."

Until now, I'd never read the entire diary of my daughter's first years of life from beginning to end. I should wrap it up and give it to myself for Mother's Day this year and go on a self-guided tour of my own first years as a mother. What better present could I receive than a reminder of all the dear, funny things my girl has said and done?

There were many moments that might have easily slipped away. For example, I forgot about "pahfah," her word for coffee, which my husband and I liked so much we wrote it on the bag of coffee we kept in the fridge. And I forgot about watching her awkwardly negotiate her big red plastic bathtub around the house, asking "Baff?" with a hopeful lilt in her voice. And then there is "bwee," which is still so eloquent and pithy, signifying anything from disappointment to anger.

It's not as if I've forgotten these things because my daughter is grown; she's only 5. And it's not as if the world would have ended if I didn't have a written reminder that she once stuck pennies to the balls of her feet so she could tap as she walked. But I won't remember everything, so I write down what I can, knowing I will always have the pleasure of revisiting my daughter's infancy and childhood, and that one day, when she's grown, I can give her this book and any others I might fill.

Month 1: Holds hands while nursing. I can stop the clock rereading a line like that, and it's just the two of us again, home from the hospital in our own bed, me giving her my index finger to grab. Or I can read through the years and months of exhausting, cherished toddlerhood: Month 18: Cuddles and crawls all over me until I think we must look like orangutans in a nature film. And Month 24: Puts her hand between my breasts and says, "We need one more nursing here."

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