Scrapbooking my life.

I love to scrapbook. I collect papers and brads and various embellishments to use to create these pages. I have notebooks of page ideas and I can sit for hours getting a page to look just right.

Many people don't really understand this thing I do, but it is a very important part of my life. For my daughter's high school graduation I made her two scrapbooks that chronicled her life from birth to the graduation something I think she treasures.

I did not really start this hobby until my son was in college and now I have very few photos so I fear that I will not be able to make him a book of his own, but my daughter did make him a scrapbook as his graduation gift from her, so at least he has some photos.

While I mostly scrapbook alone, I do sometimes go to group scrapbooking events called crops to work on pages among 20-30 other women. I used to sit at these events and listen to the women talking about how their husbands drove them crazy and about all their problems while they were simultaneously creating scrapbook pages that showed an almost perfect life. Trips, sporting events, birthdays it was all documented.
It always struck me that these women were scrapbooking the lives they wanted to have rather than the lives they really did have with the good and the bad that make up the everyday experience. I started scrapbooking as my marriage was in its final stages so I made pages for my daughter about her life and pages about my own childhood but never, not once, did I make a page about my marriage. It was not something I wanted to save memories of so I avoided it. At the time I told myself that I had too many pages to do to be ready for my daughter's graduation, but the reality is I just did not want to save any of those memories.

Very soon after I left my marriage I started my first scrapbook for me. It documents me and the things that make up my everyday life. It has pages that show how I have changed, things I have done with the man I have been dating for almost four years, and things we have done as a family with all of our children together.

But I have also been writing a series of essays about why I stayed in a bad marriage, about getting the courage to leave, and about all the things I learned from this leaving. Along with each essay is a scrapbook page that illustrates the ideas in the essay and the stories are not always pretty. From this process I learned to use scrapbooking as a way to work through the bad stuff as well as to document the good stuff. I have learned that being creative is a way to work through the demons and acknowledge the things that are sometimes hard to say out loud. I hope that in the future, when I am no longer here, my children will look through these books and see who their mother was, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. I hope these books will help my children to see me as a person, not just as a mother who is there to care for them. These books are my stories, stories of the life I am leading and the things I care about. These memories are what make up the fabric of my life-these stories are the small things that tell who I am and what I value.

In my dream life I earn my living making scrapbook pages for people who want to keep the memories but don't want to be bothered to make the pages. As far as I am concerned, making a living recording the stories of people's lives would be the best job in the world. Stories are the heart of relationships. Stories are the way we preserve our memories for our children and grandchildren so they can know who we were and what we believed.

Think about how you can share some of your stories so your children will have them. It doesn't have to be a fancy organized scrapbook it can be a handwritten journal with photos taped in. It could be a tape recording of you telling your stories. Take up scrapbooking yourself or hire someone you love to make the pages for you. You are the only version of you that will ever exist help your children know who you are before it is too late. Help your children to know you as more than just their parent.