One custom I’m glad is gone

I am attempting to organize our book collection and finding all sorts of things shoved into the nooks and crannies of the bookshelves.

My grandmother received two baby books when my mother was born. They were nicely illustrated and provided a way for parents to track their baby’s progress but, in this day of Instagram and Facebook, this custom has fallen by the wayside. Thank goodness. Can you imagine stumbling upon your baby book and finding it empty? Or worse …

My grandmother was a nurse and so Mother’s baby books are not empty. They’re not exactly full either. Things like weight and height were carefully noted. as were all illnesses and medical procedures. The rest, well it evidently didn’t interest Gram too much.

Poor kid, for sure. However, will my children want to know the date when their now deceased grandmother had her tonsils removed?

I guess Mother had no important events. To be fair, my grandmother was trying to raise three children during the Depression, and, serve as District Nurse. A district nurse’s main duty was to manage healthcare for people in small communities, for example: assign nurses, recommend treatments, delivery babies, and often provide end of life care. She’d seen it all and had little time to update the baby book with cute anecdotes.

I doubt this entry would ever show up in a baby book today:

Poor mother was apparently only lovable while vomiting. Yikes. Can you imagine what would happen if someone posted on Facebook: “Today we gave our toddler her first whipping because she wouldn’t stay seated in her high chair.” Probably wouldn’t get a lot of likes!

I have no idea what to do with these books so I’ll just shove them into the box of things for my children to deal with. Curiosities from a different time.

29 thoughts on “One custom I’m glad is gone

  1. Every end, starts with a beginning. Maybe we are too concerned about endings. We seem to devote a lot of time and money to the end of things. We take beginnings for granted. I think that idea is losing ground though, giving what is going on. Heh, we need to think about the future, fuck the past. It’s too shitty to contemplate anymore. Thanks. Duke

    1. I was rereading this right now and I think my mouth got ahead of my brains and the context of the post. What I mean to say, is that I’m all for the Baby Books, since those sort of things represent what the future could be. Planning for the kid, etc. You know, living for the future and not the past. The past got us here and it looks like a big mess from view of today. Thanks. Duke

    2. I think it was important at one time to track a baby’s progress because most people rarely saw a doctor. But most new mothers are far too stressed and busy to keep them up. Gram was a nurse so it was part of her training and routine to track things. My mother was a Darwinian – survival of the fittest sort of mother!

  2. It’s odd that you posted this as I recently stumbled on my baby book as well. I’m an only child of older parents who lost 5 babies before my birth. My book is pretty full… of course it’s all nonsense. First diaper rash? It’s a riveting read.

  3. This made me smile, JT. Our first daughter’s book has a reasonable amount of information in it, at least in the front. Our poor second daughter’s has a lot less. But now whippings or vomiting in either. 🙂

    1. You just get a lot busier as they get older – no time for documenting events! But back in the 1930s most women were housewives and many had servants. The war changed all that.

  4. Jan, I think it is sweet that she tried. It’s just too sentimental to get rid of though. I kept a journal of my daughter’s first year and wish I had kept it up. It contains a lot of nonsensical ramblings, but there are also a few nuggets within. I did take tons of pictures, but without captions and dates, it is hard to recall some of the timelines of her life. A lot of mothers use Shutterfly today to chronicle their children’s lives. I wish that had been available back in the 90’s.

  5. Hi JT – I was the youngest child in our family and my baby book isn’t quite as full as my siblings’ books. Still, I have it now and it’s nice to look through. The same thing happened when I had children – our youngest child’s book is pretty empty – oh well. I took lots of pictures, just didn’t get them in the book! Thanks for sharing these pics!

    1. My mother didn’t even attempt to keep a baby’s book for any of us. She was very much a 60s housewife – liberated from cooking by TV dinners and always up for a party!

  6. This is funny but also kind of wacko. First whipping? Oh my. I have my baby books and I haven’t a clue what to do with them. No one cares who I was, maybe even myself included! Of course they might make good blog fodder… 🤔

  7. “July 2, 1734, Our son’s first public flogging. Went well. Dozens attended. Marbeth brought fresh peaches.”
    “Sep 17, 1815, Bobby returned with both legs amputated. Good spirits. Strong arms – can peel ‘taters quick.”
    “Jan 30, 1918, Sarah found collapsed, shivering in snow. Everyone’s down with it, now. She passed in the night.”

  8. I have a problem throwing out my satin baby book, but who will be interested? It must go along with all the other clutter I don’t want to inflict on my sons. I doubt they want their own baby books but I think I will mail them anyway! (I also have two filing cabinets I need to go through – the second time for one – the first time I kept a half of my client files for sentimental reasons!)

    1. In my grandmother’s case, those books are a reminder of how hard things must have been. I have no idea whether to hold onto them or not. De cluttering is a hellish job!

  9. My mom had a book like this for me. It is populated up to when I was 3 months old and my father died. My mom didn’t have much time for frivolities after that. I still have the book. I am a bit sentimental about this sort of thing. I have first baby albums for both my boys containing their scans, hospital cards, cards from friends, etc.

    1. Sorry to hear about your dad. I think those books were probably easy for some women to keep up but difficult for others. My grandmother was not at all sentimental so she mostly listed the facts!

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