When I was pregnant with my daughter, I became obsessed with the idea of leaving her a legacy. We bought a baby book and we’ve actually been pretty happy with it. However, I’m also so meticulous that I set reminders to peruse the baby book to see if it needs to be updated. I’ve seen my share of half-completed baby books, including both my own and my husband’s, and I was determined to leave my daughter something meaningful, yet more personal and low-maintenance than a baby book (just in case I ever ditch the whole “meticulously organized” gig. Also note that term applies only to my list of tasks, not my home, closet, or pretty much anything else in my world). Here are a few of the things I’ve done so far:
I read about journaling during pregnancy, and while I liked the idea of it, it wasn’t very “me”. I’m not good at writing consistently, and my handwriting is terrible – so my daughter got her first Gmail address before she was even born. Even if you wait until after the birth of your child, you’ll need to do a little finessing of their birth date (sorry, Google) since you can’t have an address until you’re 13 years of age. I am very familiar with the importance of a moment, but even I was shocked at how fast things change in the life of a baby. Things that we would laugh about one day, like the way she used to make an O with her mouth in every single picture, would be completely forgotten weeks later until we’d see an older picture. We email her whenever we are moved to capture a moment, even just a line of text from a cell phone with an attached picture, because it might otherwise slip away. At the same time, having this has allowed me to write the verbose and intimate details of her birth just afterward in a way I’ll never be able to tell it years from now when she first asks. It fills my heart to know that whether I die tomorrow or 30 years from now that she will have the most intimate view possible into her life now, and the depth of our love for her. The bonus benefit of doing this is that we’ve given her email address out to close family members so they can email her if they choose!
2. A FAMILY HISTORY
It’s time to delegate and put those grandparents (or siblings, or other willing family members) to work! I know earlier I didn’t sound like a big fan of books to fill out but a) you’re not the one doing it and b) these books are different. They mainly focus on the grandparents’ stories, and as someone who lost both grandfathers at a very young age, I can attest to the pricelessness of such information. My daughter’s grandparents have been very pleased with the ones I chose too because they require answering just 1 question per day, which feels manageable AND fun. They also report that writing the question down for her (the grandmother version contains very few deviations) leads to learning more about each other at the same time. I just found out the other day that my grandmother filled out one of these for me, and reading it at my age made me feel both privileged and loved that she took the time to share those details of her life with me. I hope my daughter will feel the same one day.
3. A TIME CAPSULE
As any mother planning a 1st birthday party to take place on New Year’s eve will do, I procrastinated. As soon as Christmas was over, I had to pull it together, and fast. We kept it simple, with a homemade cake and close friends (hello, afterparty!), but it was also important to me to have the adults do something baby-centric. I came up with the idea of having each guest write my daughter a message to be read on her 18th birthday. I let them know it could be entirely private, or I could read them if they let me. Everyone was happy to share their messages with me, and I was blown away by the honesty and wisdom in each of them. The nature of the activity also allowed for remote participation, so I was also able to get messages from family members in other states through email. I sealed them up, and am almost giddy waiting to see the look on her face as she reads each one and knows undoubtedly how much each one of those people present for that celebration cared about her. This is an activity that can be done at any age, birthday or not, and with an infinite number variety of questions! Some more examples might be:
- What is your favorite thing about me, and why?
- What was the last thing I said that made you laugh?
- What’s the most special memory you shared with me this year?
I look forward to the years ahead with my daughter, and finding more ways to leave imprints of today for her to discover. What ways have you found to leave a legacy for your children? Please share in the comments below, so we can shamelessly borrow from each other!
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