You may remember that episode of The Sopranos in which Tony bellows at his mother Livia telling her just what a f*****ing useless grandmother she is to his kids. The reason ? He’s just come across an album that she was supposed to fill up with photos and memories for the children and the pages are all still blank. Carmela’s parents have filled theirs up, why couldn’t she ?
I sympathise with poor old Livia.
My children both have hopelessly empty baby albums on their bookshelves. Date first tooth appeared: empty. Photos of first birthday party: blank. Family tree to fill in : zilch. First words spoken : gaping void.
I do have their first ultrasound pictures and their hospital bracelets somewhere (where?) and I did keep a lock of their baby hair — although I can’t for the life of me work out which is which.
I do feel a little guilty about this failure on my part. I mean, I actually bought the albums myself, imagining the fun I would have filling them in, cutting out photos, sticking in little scraps of ribbon and wool that would trigger tender memories years later. Writing down each new bon mot. Somehow, in the whirlwind of the baby years, I just never got round to it.
I don’t have a baby album of my own but my Mum did keep every single birthday card I received until I was twelvish. Some babyhoods, of course, are hyper-documented and I feel even more inadequate when I read Dooce’s latest monthly letter to her daughter. She writes :
Sometimes I go back and read the things I wrote to you in the early months and I realize that I’ve already forgotten half of what happened, and if it weren’t for what I’ve written here I could have lost certain memories forever.I just hope the children don’t decide on the mafia as a career path when they grow up. Otherwise I may end up as fish food . Maybe I should just burn the empty baby-album evidence now, or maybe I could just make it all up. Do you think they’d mind?