Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Scrapbooks Lie

We all know scrapbooks lie, because if you go back and read through them, you obviously documented a lot more fun than you remember having. Especially if you remember to  always use an exclamation point to show the ultimate fun!

"We went swimming!" sounds a lot better than, "After a sleepless night, I dragged my over-tired and whiny children to the pool." (No energy for an exclamation point.)   Scrapbooks of family trips are a lot rosier and shinier than actual experiences, and that's fine. They say that people remember photographs more than events, so creating a Happy Family Scrapbook is, in essence, rewriting history so your child's strongest memories come with explanation points and pretty colors.  It's only kind of misleading, because the children never noticed how stressed you were anyway, right?

Grown up scrapbooks are even harder.  Try making a scrapbook of  night of awesome fun with your best girlfriends or a night away with your One True Love. It will read like a children's story. "We had dinner!" sounds a lot better than, "We got drunk at 4pm and took 100 selfies in front of random objects!" or "We had sex three times today! We trashed the hotel room bed!"

Or does it?  When we whitewash our lives so the children don't find out that Mommy or Daddy ever have anything but the cleanest of fun, are we not banishing ourselves to the category of boring, mundane grown ups that our teenager will never imagine themselves relate to? Are we not leaving our adult children no role model for remaining a person after becoming a parent?

I am not advocating sitting down and telling your children what a freak you are in bed or how drunk you got when they were at a sleepover party. I am not even advocating that you become a freak in bed or a drunk…but I am giving you permission to admit to it. I am just noting that there are some unintended consequences to leaving the fun out of your history.

That's what a scrapbook is, after all, history.  We create them to remember, to share, to pass down to future generations.  And my future granddaughter will look through my scrapbooks and think I was a boring old broad who didn't remember how to have fun.  She'll find  pre-children photographs of me singing with the band at my bachelorette party, lying on the ground laughing so hard tears are running down my face, or covered with beads at Fantasy Fest wearing only a bra and shorts.  (The bra looks like a bathing suit, I swear.)

Once I became a Mommy, though, all evidence of fun has vanished.  Part of it results from the digital age; we can keep photos without printing them, when not too long ago you had to print the whole roll or nothing at all. I also know that the idea of parents having sex or grownup fun is shocking and appalling to children, so we hide it.

Might we not be better off leaving a scrapbook of real memories, so our adult children can find them and learn something about real balance in life? That perhaps instead of hiding the evidence, we should allow our memory books to reflect a well rounded life full of happiness that doesn't always involve children?  And why do we feel guilty about having grown up fun when the children are safe and otherwise occupied?

I want my adult children not to worry about turning 30, 40 or 50. I want to leave evidence that I still was the same girl I was before children, back when it was ok to have sex and be inappropriate and wear crazy shoes and have crazy fun.  

Just think, would you rather find a scrapbook showing your great-grandparents eating dinner and smiling with their children, or a secret entry reading, "the TSA guy blushed while x-raying my bag. Think he found my dildo!" or "I am so much more orgasmic now than before I had children!"  Which would give you more hope for your own aging? 

Perhaps what we need to do is create honest scrapbooks that document the best of times,both grown-up and child-centered, and buy some really good locks.   Even better, perhaps all scrapbooks should come with locks already attached.

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