Documenting My Legacy Or: Wait, Why Don’t We Have Any Pictures Of Our Last Two Kids?
I wrote this as part of my blog tour for Murder Boy. It was originally intended for a different site, but I thought it worked best here instead. I hope you enjoy it.
I think a lot about my legacy. Probably too much. And for the longest time I linked my legacy to my writing. I was called out once for mentioning something writing related as my biggest achievement in the same year my first kid was born. I hope I’ve learned my lesson as I’ve gotten older and had more kids, but I still feel the selfishness of my writing legacy creeping into my thoughts of my parenting legacy. I worked a lot of this out in the writing of my first novel and I’m working through the parenting part of it specifically right now in the sequel and feel good that I’m going in the right direction. In that spirit, to help celebrate the publication of that first novel, instead of writing another post about my writing process, or my writing influences, or my writing goals, I’d like to talk about my poor youngest child who has about as much photo documentation of her life as Bigfoot or pre-surgery celebrities.
It started off all exciting with our first kid. I took pictures of everything with him from baby bumps to the ooey gooey of birth and beyond. We have pictures of all his birthday parties and every major milestone in his life. And the blogging. I wrote about every detail of his life and my struggles with parenting and marriage with kids and all of that. Between social media photos and my blog you can go back and get a pretty accurate impression of our life with our first kid. Thinks got sketchier with the next one. She came so fast, just barely a year after the first one, and aside from a few pics from the hospital and some where she’s photo bombing pictures of our oldest, there’s not much else. But I still wrote about her and then, once her and my son were about four and started doing more things worth photographing (and, let’s be honest, started wearing clothes more on a regular basis) the pictures resumed but the blogging drifted off. We were experiencing all of the same trials and joys we had with the first kid, but I was much less inclined to write about them and was more in survival mode.
By the time we get to our third kid, born six months ago, you see a lot of baby pictures but if you just read through the blog text for the last two years you’d be convinced we didn’t have kids anymore. Even the photos are drying up. I know I need to be better about this, but wrangling three kids into a photo is HARD and we’re usually too busy yelling at the other two to stop running in the house or stabbing each other with homemade swords to take pictures of just the baby. And as for writing about the kids now, it’s kind of why I got out of journalism. There are only so many stories you can write about people buying shovels for a blizzard before you want to scoop your brain out with a spork. How many times can I write about kids not sleeping through the night or going for months at a time only eating brown food before it gets old?
But these kids are my legacy. I respect my child-free friends and often envy their lives, but regardless of the wisdom or reason for my having kids, I have them so I might as well make sure they’re as prepared to be good citizens as they can be. My books will be gone soon enough, but if I screw up my kids they can do damage that will affect generations. I’ve read enough Bible stories and seen enough Jerry Springer episodes to know this is true. And I do not take this legacy lightly. I think about parenting a lot, but don’t write as much about it because I don’t want as much random input from other people. Parenting is a unique thing and I’ve received far more horrible parenting advice than useful bits. I also try to refrain from giving parenting advice for the same reason. The best thing parents can do for other parents is treat every child as if it were your own. Don’t judge, empathize. Don’t give advice, give support. And most importantly, buy my new book.