Last Monday, I got some devastating news: my vibrant, funny, irreverant, sweet, kind cheerful friend (and relay-running teammate) Sheila passed away. It was completely unexpected, and I've walked around this week in a sort of daze, that feeling of "how can she be gone when she was just here?" shaking me out of my usual groove.
And in that strange way that thoughts sometimes connect, her death has made me think about scrapbooking and journaling in a slightly different perspective.
I'm definitely a believer that we should all scrapbook about ourselves more than we do. We should be in more pictures, too! But there's also reality: life is busy, and sometimes it's tough to get the time to scrapbook about our kids, let alone ourselves. Still, though, as I thought about Sheila and the sense of goneness that her death filled me with, I was reminded of how important it is to leave something of ourselves behind as well.
Our stories matter!
And then I thought: why does it have to be separate anyway? Why my stories on my layouts and my kids' stories on theirs? Why not more of a mix. After all, our sense of design, the colors and embellishments we use, are small pieces of ourselves. Why not include it in the stories, too?
So with that idea as my inspiration—as well as life's busy reality—I've put together the following list of ways to include yourself in your kids' (or friend's or significant other's) layouts:
1. Start with "When I was a Kid." I flipped through the past fifty or so layout I've made, and I realized I do this quite a bit: tell a story about myself as a kid that relates to the kid or the event that I'm scrapbooking about. I did that in this recent layout:
When I was a kid we went to the Provo parade every single Independence Day. We'd walk from my grandparents apartment on 200 East to Center Street and sit in the shade of the old trees. Now that I'm the grown up, we don't go every year, but we made it this year! We saw the fighter-jet fly-by that starts the parade, and every single float & marching band & calvary horse. Plus we got Slurpees from the 7-11 down the street! I hope you'll remember, when you're the grown-up, going to parades with your grandparents.
Two memories, one layout, and a little bit of my own story mixed with my son Jake's.
2. Write about what you did for the event. Maybe you made the birthday cake from scratch using a frosting technique you found on Pinterest, or called everywhere on the Saturday of prom, looking for a boutineer because your daughter forgot to order one, or stayed up late finishing laundry the night before your son left on his first week-long summer camp.
3. Share an observation that only you have noticed. Maybe it's a personality trait, a change in a relationship, a new (or overcome) habit, a way your child has grown. You have a unique perspective on your children's lives and sharing it captures part of you as well as them.
4. Write about what you learned from your child's experience. Document how something important in her life changed something in you. I've gained insights about myself while watching my kids' sport events and musical performances, as well as while I've talked to them about their struggles.
5. Pair something from your past with your child's "now." Think about the everyday things your kids' lives entail, and then make a connection to your past. In this layout:
6. Write about what you wish you knew at your child's age. I find myself doing this more and more as my kids get older (and closer to adulthood). Sharing my knowledge feels like a way to help them be more successful.
7. Write about something you love that your child loves too. I've written journaling about my affection for dystopian novels and how my daughter and I share it; how both of my sons and I love hiking; and the way my youngest and I share a deep and abiding affection blankets. You can also try this from the opposite angle: what is something you can't stand that your kid loves? (Also, trust me, easier to do as they turn into teenagers!)
8.Write about the contrast of expectation. How did you imagine this phase of your life with your kids, and how does it really look?
9. Write about music. Is there a song you liked as a teenager that connects to your kid now? How did you feel about music when you where your son's age, or how do you feel about the music your daughter loves right now?
10. Write about similar goals. Try comparing bucket lists, for example. Or document a similar goal you are each trying to accomplish.
11. Write about connections between generations. My son Nathan sometimes reminds me so much of my grandpa Fuzz, even though the two of them never met. You are the pivot point between the past and the future—share some of those stories and connections!
12. Write what someone else said. A few weeks ago, a friend sent me an email to tell me about something sweet she'd see my son Jake do. A "my friend Jamie" approach lets you say some things that might otherwise be hard, complicated, or even scary to say.
Of course, these are just a handful of ideas. There are so many other ways you can include a piece of your stories within your kids'. I hope you'll share how you do this.