Early life records

One of the strangest yet most nostalgic things I possess is something I inherited when my mother died. It’s a small yellow book published by Collins and it would mean very little to anyone else who read it. It reignites in me fond memories of my mother and the way she felt about me and my arrival into this world. It’s my baby book.

It contains all sorts of rather personal data which in 1956 I don’t suppose my mother really intended to share with anyone else. A lot of it is written in the first person by the book’s author and my mother has apparently willingly copied that style into some of her her entries. For example: After the riveting information about when I cut the first ten of my milk teeth (seriously – it is all there!) my mother has written “Mummy lost count after this but at 15 months I had 15 teeth.”

One of the most remarkable things in there is appended to the record of my first haircut (8th May 1957 for those that want to know!) It is not the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ black and white photographs but the small lock of my fair hair still stuck there in some bizarre tribute to the durability of 1950s Selotape!

My point about this book is, apart from the pleasure it gives me to read my mother’s observations and attempts to second guess what I was thinking, that I find the whole thing rather personal. I don’t feel incline to share much of it with anyone as it seems to me like some sort of early life communicational contract between me and my late mother (albeit she was the principal contributor).

So what do mums do now nearly sixty years later? (I say ‘mums’ not to be sexist but I am comparing my own experiences and my dad’s sole contribution to my baby book was to sign his name under ‘Father’ on the first page.) Well if my group of social media based friends are a typical cross-section of 21st century parenthood they put much of the detail my mother recorded onto Facebook.

Now much has been written about Facebook security and how easy it is to see material posted there. I have no idea how many of the proud parents I know have their accounts locked down to ‘friends only’ or to the riskier ‘friends of friends’. I am equally unsure for how long status posts are retained. However since I realised how personal I found the entries in the record of my own early life I’ve had second thoughts about what I post about my children.

Many comedy scripts have been written where a mother on first meeting of a new boyfriend or girlfriend of their daughter or son gets out the family photo album and offers to show embarrassing pictures of their offspring. Will future script writers pen the line: “No thanks Mrs Jones – I’ve already seen them on Mum’s Facebook “

Just a thought…..

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