In the past, the mother has historically been the parent who looks inward to the family while the father has looked outwards. It’s been Mom who’s taken the lead in taking the household and turning it into what the family comes to call home, but that’s changing as more fathers return home. I frankly thought that I’d taken on pretty much everything that mothers have until several weeks ago when a project that required a number of family photos through the years raised it’s head, and my only thought was oh crap.
Multiple projects through the years – science fairs and scouts for example – have led me to craft stores and I’ve always walked past the scrapbooking section with a cursory glance. Yeah, my thinking went, that’s just lovely but it’s something that mebbe I’ll worry about later. Unfortunately, there was a parental project for graduating high school seniors and the need for the photos made me realize that later is now. The result was a scramble through boxes of old photos and the wholesale reloading of camera cards onto my laptop in a search for meaningful and good photos of Eldest through the years. As the project continued, it became apparent that we also had rolls of old 35 mm film in multiple drawers and while it was too late to use them – meaning that Eldest’s ‘tween years are missing from the project – the first of them were dispatched to a local camera store for developing.
My wife originally had a plan for all of these photos and started more than 15 years ago to try to create a photographic history of the kids’ lives with the intent of giving each a significant album when they reached adulthood. It was a wonderful thought and she kept at it for the first three years of Eldest’s life but the arrival of Middle – let alone Youngest – to the family meant that the project was relegated to the various drawers throughout the basement. To be honest, it was something that I found cute but not terribly important as the kids grew and activities took over but now I’ve come to realize that the albums truly do have significance for them. Eldest knows about the project and was annoyed to find that I refused to show her; other parents have commented that the projects that are being done for their own kids are among the highlights of that particular evening for them.
It’s now apparent that I badly underestimated the value of the albums and memorykeepers. The kids want, especially as they move into the world, to have a sense of who they are and where they’re from and making the effort to provide something can only be of benefit to them. While I believe that men can do most of what women can in the home, I doubt that most of us have the female sense of taste and that’s certainly true in my own situation. However, I’ll make what was once referred to as a rum go of it in the attempt to provide a scrapbook that isn’t a (s)crapbook.