DH is changing into this PJs, Amie looks on and asks:

– What are these?

– My chest muscles.

– No, these.

– Nipples.

– What are they used for?

(Snicker from Mama in the other room.)

– (Laughs too) Nothing. On me they’re useless.

– Then how did they grow there?

– They grow on all humans. They make us mammals.

– Why are you a camel?

Fragment page from Amie’s Baby Journal (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

From the moment Amie was born, I started a daily baby journal. I have been keeping a journal since I was 14: sometimes it’s a habit, sometimes a refuge. So it made sense that I would make a separate journal for my daughter, addressed to her and relating the events of her young life before she could pen them (or even understand them) herself.

It soon proved impractical, though.

For one, I had to write it out slooooowly so that Amie would later have some chance of deciphering my handwriting – I usually write FAST and in a kind of shorthand of my own making. Then there was the lack of time – oh time where didst thou go?

But the biggest problem was the separation of Amie’s story from my own – her journal from my own. It was impossible. I tried writing down everything in my journal, warts and bad spelling and scribbling and all, then sifting out a cute story for her, which I penned out (semi-) legibly (judge for yourself), with a little picture of the day and even some illustrations of important objects in her life.

Here are some examples (click on thumbnails for larger view):


Page from Amie’s Baby Journal (c) Katrien Vander Straeten  Page from Amie’s Baby Journal (c) Katrien Vander Straeten


Page from Amie’s Baby Journal (c) Katrien Vander Straeten  Page from Amie’s Baby Journal (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

Well, who has time for that once the baby starts rolling over and getting into all kinds of mischief? Not me. I abandoned Amie’s Journal soon after her nine-month birthday. It looks extra bad because I was only 100 or so pages into a new moleskine!

I took up another project, however, when Amie was born, one that is still on-going. But about that, some other time…

This morning, after a rare full night’s sleep (and blissfully no hypnopompic sightings for me!), we cuddled for 15 minutes before getting well and truly up.

Amie was enacting “Baby Amie”: she cuddles and coos and you have to hold and shush her like a baby. Then I asked her: “Do you remember what Baby Amie used to do?” She thought for a couple of seconds and answered:


“Yes, and what else did Baby Amie do?”

“Did Baby Amie have lots of gung-gung?”

(“Gung-gung” was her/our word for nursing.)

Amie thought deeply for three seconds or so, then her face and eyes lit up with remembrance and joy:

“Ye-es,” she said, smiling broadly. Then:

“Where is gung-gung?”

“Oh, sorry sweetie,” I said, “there’s no more gung-gung” (she weaned herself about six months ago). She nodded understandingly, and then very seriously stated:

“Amie is all finished with gung-gung.”

I found a photograph that captures motherhood so perfectly – in a setting that completes the picture for me. It’s by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, from his Storybook Life. I can’t reproduce it because of copyright, but click here and you’ll see.