Ever since Teddy was born, I’ve been planning out his Lifebook in my head.
A Lifebook is a keepsake often associated with adoption. When I worked as a social worker with children who were placed with foster families, one of the first things I did was to find out if they had a Lifebook, and create one for them if they didn’t already have one.
The simplest way to explain it is to call it a scrapbook – a book of photos, words, letters, mementos that tells the child’s life story. For children who are placed with foster families, the Lifebook can be a constant – something that follows them and tells their story, which is especially valuable if they don’t have an adult who is a constant in their life to help them to understand their experiences and their memories.
Teddy’s Lifebook would be a little different. It would basically be a book containing his origin story – a book explaining how we came to be a family. Tee and I have had beautiful plans for his Lifebook. I bought a navy blue braided photo album and farm-themed scrapbook paper. I started plotting out the words that we’d write on sticky notes. I ordered some baby photos from Shutterfly.
And then I stopped.
The thing is – I’m not great at scrapbooking. I enjoy it, in theory. I might even like it, if I were at some sort of scrapbooking party and could work on it while chatting with friends. But when I’m home on a Saturday afternoon, enjoying my two hours of down time while Teddy naps, the absolute LAST thing I want to do is make a freaking scrapbook.
Teddy loves being read to, and I am finding that my favorite way to prepare him for upcoming experiences is through books. We read books about adoption day, Christmas, the potty, mindfulness. It’s amazing to watch him make connections, to see how reading a book about the potty has helped to prepare him for toilet training.
I knew Teddy would love reading his Lifebook – just a simple story, with pictures of him, me, and Tee, explaining how we came to be a family. And I kept feeling increasing pressure that I HAD to get this book made, so that Teddy could read it with us and start to understand his story. We tell him his adoption story regularly – we’re completely open and honest and joyful about how we came to be a family – but I knew that reading a book together repeatedly would be way more impactful for Teddy. Also, kids go through stages. Maybe in a year or so, Teddy won’t even be into books as much as he is today. (Hard to imagine, with me and Tee as his parents, but it could happen.)
So I felt super stressed and overwhelmed, and the Lifebook still wasn’t getting done.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I made a decision: I would make a not-that-great Lifebook.
I would do a sub-par job. I would half-ass it.
Someday, I would make a perfect Lifebook for Teddy. But today, I’d make one that was just good enough.
I picked a day, and I sat down that evening to look at websites. I flirted with a few websites that allow you to self-publish a simple children’s book, and then I abandoned them to use Shutterfly. I’ve created books on Shutterfly before – our adoption album, the one that was shown to prospective birth parents, was made on Shutterfly – and that would be the simplest path to take.
I uploaded a bunch of photos – that took basically an entire evening. The only photos I included were photos of me, Tee, and Teddy. If I included extended family or friends, I’d be worrying about balance and including everyone and where the hell is that one photo of Teddy with all his grandparents. NOPE. Not doing any of that. Keeping it simple.
The next evening, I put the photos in place and I typed out the text. I had Tee read it and she gave me some feedback. I proofread it one more time and ordered it.
I felt amazing for days after I ordered the book. I was so excited for it to arrive, and I was relieved to have that stress off my shoulders.
That task had been on my to-do list for almost two years. All it took was me deciding that I would settled for “good enough,” and it got done.
And you know what? It’s more than good enough. It’s wonderful. Teddy loves looking at his baby pictures and sitting on my lap listening to the story – his story.
I’m a recovering perfectionist, and it’s a relief when I give myself permission to do B+ work. Especially when it comes to parenting. Because it’s all about showing up. Admitting that you won’t be able to do any of it perfectly, and showing up anyway.
It’s hard. But worth it.