Suzanne Tobias

October 13, 2011

Confessions of an alleged scrapbooker

I'd tell you right off the bat that this column is about scrapbooking, but I don't want you to roll your eyes and assume I'm just another mom who cuts pictures of her kids into cheesy heart shapes and splatters them with bunny stickers.

For one thing, bunny stickers are so 1998.

For another thing, my photographer husband isn't keen on photographs being cropped into odd shapes or with zigzag scissors.

So my "scrapbooking style" — assuming I were to admit I'm a scrapbooker, which I haven't — would lean toward simple and streamlined. The goal being to share memories in a way that: a) doesn't require passing your camera to a friend and saying, "OK, scroll back to last Halloween," and b) doesn't prompt the friend to say, "I didn't know they made paper in that shade of neon chartreuse."

But yes, I occasionally sit down in my home office (not a craft room) with a pile of photographs (rectangular) and assemble them into something resembling a (bunny-less) decorated photo album.

Scrapbook. Whatever. Sheesh.

At first, like most moms, I did it for me. I wanted something to preserve my children's adorable, smiling, drooly, bald-headed baby selves that I could reference whenever they grew into sullen, ungrateful, camera- and conversation-hating teenagers.

But I discovered recently that my kids, at least for now, appreciate that shelf of photo albums even more than I do.

Hannah, 13, pulls two or three of the heavy books down whenever a friend spends the night. They sit on the couch, pointing and giggling at the banana costume she wore on her first Halloween or at her brother Jack's chubby cheeks.

They recall trips to the beach in South Carolina, where we danced on the pier and ate hot dogs barefoot at Sam's Corner. They remember preschool friends and birthday pool parties, ballet recitals and T-ball games, the time we saw Santa and both kids screamed.

Two little albums contain each child's "birth-minute" photos — pictures taken each year on their birthdays, at the exact minute they were born. We started the tradition by accident on Hannah's first birthday, when we looked at the clock while preparing for her party, realized she was exactly one year old and hurried to take a photo.

This December I'll pull her out of her eighth-grade class to take the photo, on the pretense of a birthday lunch, and I'll officially be one of those crazy scrapbook moms. Fortunately for Jack, his birthday falls in the summer, so I don't have to embarrass him in front of friends.

Not that he could stop me.

But oh, how we love those birth-minute books. Flip through the pages and you see the kids grow up before your eyes, like spinning a zoetrope to watch an antelope walk, then run, then leap through the air, faster and faster. Each turn of the page takes my breath away, shows childhood with fleeting, time-lapse accuracy.

So yes, I scrapbook. I save and savor moments. I take pictures and keep locks of baby hair. I do it for me and for them, and maybe someday for their children's children.

And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

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