Calendar Girl by
100
(145 Stories)

Prompted By Baby Books

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Only on page 3 of my baby album, and I’m already 10 months old.

My parents didn’t keep baby books, but they did keep photo albums. The kind with the black construction paper pages. They pasted the pictures in, or else sometimes the pictures were held by those photo corners with adhesive on the back. They made an album for each of their three daughters. At some point, after my father died and my mother was starting to declutter and downsize, she proudly gave me my album. I was excited until I looked through it. There were only about ten pages with pictures on them and 40 or so more that were blank. The pictures all had dates written right on the edge, in my mother’s or father’s handwriting. Most pages have six pictures on them, invariably all from a single photo shoot (like the page shown above). They start in September 1951, when I was days or weeks old, and go all the way to . . . 1955. That’s it. No more pictures after I was four years old.Β  Stuck in loose between the pages of the blank section are a few school pictures, lots of yellowed newspaper clippings about me, and the program from my law school graduation. I can’t be positive that my older sisters have more extensive albums, but I have a strong suspicion that they do. I call mine the classic third child baby book.

  • * * * * *

With each of my children, I used a Baby Record Calendar. The first time it was because that’s what I was given at my baby shower. It was cute, with a bear holding balloons on the front. It was gender neutral, thank goodness, because I didn’t know the baby was a girl until she was born. It had adorable stickers depicting 81 important milestones to affix to the appropriate date when the baby accomplished that milestone. I dutifully applied all the stickers for the entire year, as well as writing in other memories that there weren’t any stickers for. For instance, there were stickers for 1st car trip, and 1st plane trip, which I used in their respective places, but none for 1st train trip, so I had to write that in by hand. In the back I attached a family photo in the designated place, and filled in the family tree, description of arrival day, immunizations, and other interesting facts. I also pasted in a copy of the birth announcement, which we had done very cleverly in the style of a law firm announcing the hiring of a new associate. We said she was “admitted to the practice of life” and that she would specialize in “domestic relations, waste management, and noise control.” Lawyer humor, I suppose, but most of our friends were lawyers too, so they appreciated it.

 

With my second child, I wanted another calendar, because I had liked the way it worked the first time, plus it wouldn’t do to have a book for him when I only had a calendar for her. So I went to the Hallmark store and bought one myself. (I wasn’t sure if that was true, until I turned it over just now and there was a price tag on the back. If I had gotten it as a gift, the giver would have removed the price tag.) The calendar itself wasn’t as colorful, and the cover was made to look like a needlepoint sampler, which is not my thing, but the milestone stickers were exactly the same, so it must have been made by the same company. Since he was born in the middle of the month, I decided to start numbering the days with the week he was born – no sense wasting two whole rows of squares! As a result, each page was half one month and half another, which made it a little more complicated. Then I also decided to fill up the full five weeks on each page, so I got to his first birthday on the page that said My Eleventh Month, and by the final page, which said My First Birthday, he was actually 14 months old. I notice that there aren’t quite as many stickers used in his calendar as there were in his sister’s, even though I’m sure he reached all the same milestones. Guess it wasn’t quite as momentous for me the second time around. I did fill in the family tree in the back, because it was easy to copy it from the other one. Since it was 1988, a presidential election year, we wrote his birth announcement in the style of a political flyer, informing the public that he had “joined the winning ticket” and would be campaigning for “a full diaper pail in every home, and two tricycles in every garage.”

 

So now we come to the third child. Having been the recipient of a sadly minimal third child book myself, I wouldn’t have done the same thing to my own third child, would I? No! I had a calendar for her too, although when I first started writing this story, I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t in the same place I had stored the other two, and I was worried that I had lost it and would never be able to prove I had done just as thorough a job for her as I had for the others. I wrote a whole mea culpa paragraph, which I have now deleted because I finally found her calendar, tucked away in a bookcase in our upstairs hall. It is not by the same company that did the other two, it is much smaller, pastel instead of bright colors, and way too schmaltzy for my taste. Either it was a gift, or it was the only one we could find. There were 63 stickers instead of 81, so I see that we supplemented them with other types of stickers and some drawings of our own – like a soccer ball when we dragged her along at three months old to the soccer seeding tournament for her siblings. The family tree is filled out, and in some months we wrote answers to questions that are asked, like baby’s visitors, sleeping patterns, current events, etc. The final two months are pretty sparse, but that is explained by the entry just before she turned 10 months old that says “Mommy goes back to work” with a sticker of a turtle wearing a hat and tennis shoes. (No idea why we chose that sticker.) So I feel vindicated – I was afraid, until I found her calendar, that it might be as sparse as the pictures in my own photo album, and I’m pleased that it was not. And starting at ten months, we have voluminous records of her daily life, kept by The Perfect Nanny in spiral notebooks.

Whether any of my children will ever be interested in seeing their baby calendars probably depends on whether they have kids of their own. If not, knowing when they got their first tooth, or laughed or waved for the first time, will likely be a matter of indifference to them. But I’m glad I did it, because looking at them now brings back such special memories for me. I wish the calendars had asked for a picture of baby for every month, because I would have put one in if there had been a spot for it, and that would actually be the most fun to see.

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Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Suzy, great fun to read! Before you actually wrote it yourself, I thought Well, by the third child her parents lost the baby-book novelty!

    My folks had no baby book for me or my sister, nor did I have one for my son, altho somewhere I have a wispy lock of hair from his first trip to the barber, and I had some of his baby teeth in my jewelry box for years, but when I just went to look, they seem to have disappeared!

    Did my son come over one day and take them to sell them back to the tooth fairy???

    • Suzy says:

      Oh yes, now that you mention it, I have envelopes with baby teeth in them, as well as letters written to the tooth fairy. Maybe I should put those with the calendars, although I’m not 100% sure I know which teeth came from which child!

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Suzy, good for you for being so diligent in filling out so much information for all three children. I don’t think baby books were a thing when we were born. My mother also had albums of old photos, tho not for individual children and after my parents divorced in 1981; she went nuts and threw away most of those old photos, so the only ones I have were photos I had taken from her before the divorce which gets me very upset, as you can imagine.

    • Suzy says:

      Betsy, baby books must have been a thing, because Laurie had one, and she’s older than we are. πŸ™‚ But I certainly think it was much less common than it became by the time we were parents. I guess Hallmark didn’t have as much influence in the ’40s and ’50s as it did in the ’70s and ’80s.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    Suzy, I love the images you included here. Bravo to your parents for making a photo album for their third child, even if you were a bit short changed. I love the clever announcements you created for your children. And I remember your story of the perfect nanny, so your third child likely had more details about her babyhood than the others. No guilt!

  4. Suzy, another great title! I love the continuity of sticker calendars for all three of your children. I don’t think those were a thing when my daughter was born.

    I do wonder why you don’t have more baby photos. Maybe the camera was lost or stolen, or the photos were misplaced. I think all parents that start baby books (or albums or calendars) fully intend to keep them up to date, but life has a habit of getting in the way of the best intentions, especially when it involves growing a family. Did you ever ask for an explanation?

    • Suzy says:

      It’s possible that 1955 was when they switched from prints to slides. They certainly had boxes and boxes of slides, and I have some of them now, but it’s hard to figure out what to do with them. Alternatively, my mother may have decided at that point that she was done with pasting photos into albums. I never asked for an explanation, and I doubt she would have had one.

      • Slides are a problem, it seems no one really wants to look at them unless they’re doing research. Photographs are really invaluable, I just hate to think of them disappearing! And by the way, I’ve been singing “Calendar Girl” for two days now. I love, I love, I love my calendar girl, yeah, sweet calendar girl . . . wondering if you too get an ear worm each time you come up with a new title. Precious story, by the way . . . I forgot to mention that!

  5. Risa Nye says:

    Suzy, you seem to have struck a nerve with this prompt–at least with the mothers who post here! Many similarities in our stories. I’ve enjoyed reading all of them! Those lucky third kids do not have to ask: what am I–chopped liver??

    • Suzy says:

      It certainly does seem to be a gendered response to this prompt, at least so far. I would not have predicted that, so it shows how much I know! Glad to see you’ve posted a story too, which I am excited to read.

  6. John Shutkin says:

    Condolences on being the victim of “last child photo deprivation syndrome.” It is well known, probably because it is so often the case. That said, I am in awe of your efforts in creating comprehensive baby calendars for all your kids (but especially for #3). And I am so glad that you have gotten to enjoy them so much. It will be most interesting to see if having their own kids will make them more interested in their own calendars.

    And, in the Great (Legal) Minds Think Alike Department, when my second daughter was born I created a very officially looking “Notice of Appearance” document, complete with a legal back stapled to it, (When my first daughter was born, as her mother was a college president, I created a faux diploma with a lot of fractured Latin phrases on it (e.g., “Summa Cum Love”).

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, John. I think I have coped very well with my LCPDS, most people have no idea. . . . And I’m glad to know that you did clever birth announcements too. I’m quite proud of mine, as I’m sure you are of yours!

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