A few weeks ago, I was at the scrapbook store, and I started chatting with one of the employees. She told me that she doesn’t scrapbook much anymore, because all of her kids are grown and out of the house. This kind of surprised me because A—I still have tons of stories I haven’t scrapbooked about all of my kids, even the ones who are grown and out of the house and B—where in the scrapbooking rule book does it say a person needs kids in order to scrapbook?
I suggested to her that she could scrapbook about herself and she said “I don’t know, that feels kind of selfish, doesn’t it?”
Ah—there’s the rub. If we scrapbook for our kids, we are doing a service for someone else, right? But if we scrapbook about ourselves, who are we taking care of?
Maybe. And why is that wrong? Why can’t we take care of ourselves?
When did our stories stop becoming important? When we became mothers?
I believe that no one’s story ever stops mattering. If you don’t have kids—your story matters. If you’re single—your story matters. If you’re a mom and/or a wife, your story matters.
Partly, for me, this is true because of one of the reasons I scrapbook: I wish I knew more about my ancestors, especially the women. How did my grandma deal with her endometriosis, with having babies during WWII, with her son joining the navy? What was her favorite perfume? How did she feel about her body? What was her favorite dessert to bake? How did she feel on the day I was born? There are uncountable questions I wish I had answers to, not just from her but from my other grandma, and from my great grandmothers as far back as I know. I’m not sure that everyone has this feeling, but it makes me feel a specific sort of loneliness, which is both sad and a little bit angry that they didn’t write down anything. Anything. And that feeling is partly why I scrapbook, both about my kids and about myself: because maybe one day a granddaughter will want to know more about her dad, or a great-grandson might want to know about his grandma, maybe someone will need to know, will long to know like I do, some details about the people who came before, and there’ll be some scrapbooks to read and then that person won’t have to feel that sad/angry feeling I have.
But even if you don’t have anyone coming after you, your story is still inherently valuable. You lived. You were here on this earth and so your story matters, too.
I mostly scrapbook about my kids. I probably make about 4-6 layouts a year about myself. But, I do scrapbook my stories. I’ve made layouts about my childhood memories and experiences, my education, races I’ve run in. I’ve made layouts about things I love and why I love them. I’ve made layouts that are about my own reactions to Christmas (rather than my children’s). About my relationships and friendships, about trips I’ve taken and hikes I’ve completed.
I’ve got one in my head that’s about my favorite brands of running clothes—I just have to collect a few more tags.
The layouts about me just get stuck in a brown leather album. But I’m also working on two separate albums that I update once a year:
- My birthday album. This has year-in-review layouts with a photo of my around my birthday and then some thoughts. Some of them are life-right-now snippets. Some of them are deeper thoughts. I got this idea from another scrapbooker somewhere—I’m not 100% sure where, but she started hers when she turned 40. I didn’t, but I did happen to make a layout about myself on my 41st birthday, and then I made this one about turning 44 (I wrote the journaling right after my birthday but only got around to making the layout last week; I wanted to finish it before my (yikes!) 45th birthday), so I think I might go back and see if I can make something out of all the birthdays in my 40s. I want to add one layout every year to this album until I’m too old to scrapbook.
- My Thanksgiving album. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but it’s the one of which usually take the fewest pictures. Sometimes I have stories to tell about my kids’ Thanksgiving experiences, but I always have my thoughts. So I started with last Thanksgiving and again, I’m going to add to this every year, an album full of my Thanksgiving stories.
And OK: maybe it is sort of…presumptuous of me to think that someone in the future will care to know those things about me. But, you know…I actually like going back and looking at my layouts. You don’t just forget stuff about your kids, you forget it about yourself, too, and it’s nice to have a record of some of the little details.
So, that’s sort of a long answer to that salesclerk’s question: No, I don’t think it’s selfish to scrapbook about yourself. No one else can tell your stories but you. I hope you’ll tell them! And if you are wanting some other ideas and examples, please check out this post on my friend Mandy's blog, Turquoise Avenue. Happy scrapping!