Last weekend, ten five year olds tumbled into my house for a rainbow-unicorn-shooting-star party. There was dancing, laughter, a tear or two, and- of course- cake.  Bingo leaned over and blew out five candles in a single breath.  And just like that, the kid who made me a parent turned five.

I didn’t write about four at all, because the sum total of a one year old and a four year old was twenty-four hours of exhaustion per day.  I’m sorry now that I didn’t because, when I read back about three, there is such a huge leap between then and now, here and there, that I don’t know what I can write that will traverse that distance.

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My favorite things, part 2.

You should know I’m not great at recordkeeping.  Over the years I’ve started dozens of diaries, only to abandon them after the first couple of pages.  The calendar that hangs above my desk at work has been declaring it August since mid-July.  All mementos, photos, letters and other archives of my life from birth to present are haphazardly shoved into a cardboard box. 

As in so many respects, Sea is my complete opposite.  Every stage of her life has been neatly recorded, labelled and then filed away for later reference.  The calendar that hangs on our fridge is promptly changed over on the first day of every month.  I’m fairly certain that she began keeping a diary when she was a fetus.  As such, it was no surprise that about three days after Bingo was conceived Sea announced that we needed a baby book. 

If left to my own devices, years from now Bingo’s birth certificate would probably be shoved at the bottom of a bag with a handful of crumpled receipts and half of a chocolate bar and I’d have no idea what his/her first word had been.  I agreed with Sea that a neatly organized book filled with important dates, adorable photos and pertinent details would probably be better.  But then there was the matter of finding a baby book.

For months, Sea and I looked everywhere for a suitable template.  We went to the trendiest downtown bookstores and flipped through everything from the sentimental to the ironic.  But no matter how many books we looked through, every single one had pages for Mommy and Daddy firmly sewn in.  What was daddy like when he was a baby?  What did daddy think when he found out that a baby was on its way?  What names did daddy like?  Etc, so on, so forth.  Sea and I contemplated clever scrapbooking or the copious use of White Out , but neither strategy was ideal. 

Online shopping had provided more of the same—gendered books reflective of one narrow reality.  Even single parents were out of luck though I suppose they, at least, could have carefully cut along the seams of irrelevant pages.  Then Sea hit the jackpot and found this book.

This book was exactly what we had been looking for.  As the website so succinctly says, it really is suitable for all families.  Its neat metal rings can hold any combination of pages.  Have a mommy and daddy?  Fantastic!  A mummy and a mama?  Great!  A papa and a dadi?  Wonderful!  Something else entirely?  Lovely—order a customized page!  Sea and I ordered the relevant pages (mummy and mommy, in case you’re interested), along with an extra “our donor” page.  We chose a plain white cover for the sake of simplicity, though the available dinosaur option was high on my list.  

For now the book is sitting empty in Bingo’s room, but I know that Sea’s neat writing will soon be filling it with the memories and details that I might otherwise forget.  And when those memories are entered, I’m sure that it will feel even more important to have a book made to fit our family as opposed to a book that our family has to bend to fit. 

(As with my first “favourite things” post, I haven’t been asked to review this product or write this post: I’m still not important enough to be bribed.  I’m sharing only because I know just how impossible it can be to find anything that works for our quirky, queer families, and just how important these things can be.)