mother holding baby on her lap, looking at her laptop to illustrate the idea of creating an email account for a childAt 8:30 a.m. my phone made a familiar chime to alert me that I’d received a text message. Several pings later, I didn’t need to check the phone to know who they were from. My mom was clearly on her morning walk.

Each morning my mom walks five miles around her neighborhood and takes pictures of all the interesting things she observes (ducks, turtles, pretty flowers — an alligator once). And she sends them to me. But, the pictures aren’t for me. These data- and memory-consuming mementos are for my daughter. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell my mom that we have ducks and squirrels in our neighborhood, too, she insists on sending the pictures for her granddaughter. One day, her phone was being glitchy and wouldn’t allow her to send the pictures through text, so she sent the pictures via email instead. And I suddenly had an idea!

I created an email address for my child. I made the password something that was familiar to me and my husband. I shared the email address with all the people in my daughter’s life and invited them to send pictures, letters, notes, and videos to her email address. I explained that when she’s older, we’ll share the email address and password with her and she’ll have an opportunity to see everything that was sent to her.

My mom cried and explained that she has so many things to share with her grandbaby, but she’s not sure how long she’ll be around to share those things. And, it seems to her that no one appreciates handwritten letters anymore. She was ecstatic about the email account and was, of course, the first person to send something to the email address.

Next, my brother sent my daughter a silly video from his family. Later that week I jotted down some thoughts and prayers I wanted to share with my baby, and I sent it to her email address. It was a sobering activity. I realized that as much as I want to be around for all of my daughter’s ages and stages, there’s no guarantee. So, I kept writing and requesting that others write too. I asked my family and friends to skip the gifts for holidays in exchange for a note, picture, or video sent to my daughter’s email address.

It’s been a huge hit.

I never expected to create an email address for a young child, but I can’t wait for my daughter to see her collection of notes from her loved ones. I hope she feels as loved and cherished as she is, and I hope in some way, we can leave little pieces of ourselves with her even after we’ve gone.

Tracy Skelly
Tracy was born and raised in Southern California. In 2009, she relocated to Massachusetts for a master’s program and, for the first time, learned the real meaning of “cold.” With plans to move back home after earning her degree, she foolishly accepted an invitation to dinner from a handsome stranger. He swept her off her feet, and she never made it back to California. Tracy and her husband live in Boston with their daughter, Sophia. Tracy has spent the last 10 years working in operations and business development. She’s an active member of her church community. Her work within the church is focused on local missions — food security, education, homelessness, family care services, and nutrition and health services (something Tracy is particularly passionate about). Recently, Tracy started a small business. The Little Cocoa Bean Company is a social enterprise focused on baby and toddler nutrition. When she’s not working or mom-ing, you can usually find Tracy in her garden. Loves: baby snuggles, plants, musicals, her husband’s laugh, Black art, island vacations, gospel music, big windows, and snow storms Dislikes: weeds, scary movies, chunks in ice cream, laundry, and Mondays


  1. One of the best ideas ever! I did the same thing for my daughters that are 16 and 18. They now use these email addresses. But, most importantly have so many pictures of memories saved safely. Thank goodness because some prints were damaged in a flood and I had majority saved on my computer and a USB. Now that everything is digital and phone camera quality is amazing, I don’t print like I used to either. Very kind of you to take the time to share the idea with others. Spread the word, moms!

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