As part of his homework, my youngest one had been required to bring pictures of himself from age 0-1year old. Even though I had three day notice regarding this homework, I kept postponing it as I for some reason thought it’d be a walk in the park to collate. I finally got round to doing it the morning of the last day of submission which was a school morning and we almost ran late to school just looking for these photos. Thinking back later in the day, I was troubled, about how much documented memories were missing from my second child’s life. He had been born just when the social media and photographic technology( the smarter phones) were taking a firm sit in our lives; hence key memories from his life are stored up in phone media cards, flash drives, on face book etc. These memories were everywhere but not stored in that way that he can go back to it and share with his own children years from now.
I remembered visiting my parents some months back and spending over an hour purring over childhood pictures of my siblings and I- all well chronicled in that way that told stories of milestone birthdays, cousins’ birthdays, family holiday trips, matriculations, graduations, you name it. The albums were methodologically arranged to tell meaningful stories. I had seen these albums lots of times, growing up but they just made more meanings and elicited more questions that my mum was happy to answer to.
I felt a stab of guilt when I remembered how close I was to depriving my child of this and more. Face book recently clocked 10 and played back all our memories we had stored over this period- it was nice to see, but a huge reminder of how much we had in stored up in the ‘wrong’ places; sorry I’m a fan of face book, but we have no guarantee it’d be here or that it’d still be one of the leading social media sites when my child becomes a parent, at least judging by how fast paced the social media scene is.
I knew one more thing we would be depriving our children of- my friend Knox had highlighted that years ago during a conversation. I had been lamenting that my mum hadn’t stayed with me long enough when I had my second child as she did when I had my first. She hadn’t performed the traditional ‘omugo’ (my mum is ibo and Omugo is a big deal in my mum’s culture) – it the formal process where your mum stays with you for at least one month post birth to nurse you back into your pre birth self. During our discussion (or my lamentation), Knox had quickly asked that I be grateful she came at all, after all there was no way our selfish and busy generation will leave our spouses, work, life to go and ‘look after some grandchild somewhere’- I had laughed at the time, but the more I thought of it, the more I know that this tradition will quickly come to an end in our time. I recall some friends whose Mums had done more than the ‘omugo’ coming before they had put to bed and then staying up to a month post birth.
I had no doubt like Knox said, that when our grandchildren come, we will do the following; 1) Send congratulatory messages by whatever social media, instant message tool we will be using then 2) post a lot of pictures the parents have sent through, 3) take a day or two arranging the house help(s) to travel with us to visit then,4) take the fewest days from work…and then arrive there with a notice to our children of how long we will be staying 5) finally and graciously leave them with the helps to conduct the ‘omugo’. We had laughed at this picture when we painted it- but I have no doubt that’s how it will be. Knox then added ‘to be honest I there’s no way I’d leave my husband to go and squat in anyone’s house for any duration’. That’s just how it is, we will be busy and err selfish grandparents.
I recently saw a display message that illustrated what type of grandparents our generation will be. It was a picture a grandpa – white hair and all who was struggling for the Xbox play pad with his grandson. It was hilarious to see but not farfetched- after all we (parents and children) currently have the xbox, PS playing, facebook visiting, habits so what’s going to change?.