I have an Achilles heel. Don’t we all? Much like Yogi Bear just couldn’t resist an unattended picnic basket, or Menelaus couldn’t resist Helen of Troy, I too have something that I just cannot resist doing. This despite the fact that when I involve myself with this particular activity, I end up spending way too much time doing it and end up feeling melancholy when all is said and done. And yes, I just tied greek mythology and modern cartoons together. You’re welcome.
I love looking through old pictures. And while this in itself is not necessarily an unpleasant activity, especially when paired with a glass of wine or maybe even some good company, most of the time it leaves me feeling a bit bummed. But not matter how hard I try, if I come across old photos rather in a photo-book or on the computer, I have to stop for a few minutes and look.
I love pictures. I enjoy looking through the heaps of old photos that I have or clicking through them on the computer. And I also enjoy taking them. Hopefully as time passes I’ll only get better at handling a camera. As long as I can take good pictures of my kids and those things and people who I love then I suppose that I’m pretty much set in the photography department. Pictures are wordless, though they invoke so many thoughts or phrases in us when we look at the ones that hold deep sentimental attachment. They are literally a moment in time, not to sound too ridiculously cheesy. And I just love pictures that actually tell the viewers a story. There are photos and then there are pictures. Pictures that give more than a fleeting glimpse of the subject, pictures that let you see layers or feeling.
I get frustrated sometimes because I wish that I could make the subject in my pictures look in a photo how beautiful I feel they look in real life. Which is ridiculous. No matter how gorgeous something or someone is, there just will never be a photo that truly and completely does them justice. But it’s fun trying anyway. Tonight, I was sitting with Jerry on my lap and we were playing on the computer. Jerry shares the same enthusiasm for looking at pictures as I do. I think it fascinates him to see pictures of himself at different stages of his life. I love how much he smiles when he sees himself and notices chubby he was when he was just an infant. Or I love how he laughs at himself in the pictures where he was crinkling up his nose because he was being a ham for the camera. It’s like getting a double sense of joy because I love having those pictures for myself, and now, he gets to enjoy them on his own as well.
I don’t think that he sees everything that is in some of these photos yet. I don’t think he notices how unsteady his chubby legs were as he was just beginning to stand as opposed to now, when the baby chub is slowly but surely dwindling. He doesn’t remember being so small as he stared wide-eyed out of the kitchen window, eager to point out the neighbor’s dog to us and how magical we thought he was when he was just learning how to toddle around on his own. And I know that he doesn’t notice everything else in the foreground of those photos. The house that was a bit neglected or was suddenly filled with bouncy seats, toys and baby quilts. Things that hadn’t been in any pictures of our family before he came. He probably doesn’t notice the messes littering the house because I couldn’t get to them, or how the yard doesn’t look as trim in older photos because Rob hadn’t had a lot of time to tend it.
And then there is what he wouldn’t see in a picture, but despite that was very much present at the time. I know that Jerry doesn’t notice the two young parents who were looking on as a lot of those photos were taken. Who loved catching just the right moment with our babies on camera. Those young parents who paused after those photos were taken and looked at each other with a visage of contentment, unspoken words between them when their eyes met to quietly exclaim, “we’re doing this. we’re parents now.”
I know that he doesn’t notice all of that. And that’s OK. I just hope that someday he will. I hope he knows how adored he was, both he and his sister. I hope that they both know that mommy and daddy tried to capture everything that they could whenever they could. Because those are the things that we want to remember and hold on to for as long as possible. Because we knew that those moments wouldn’t last, but they were very much real. Sometimes, I kick myself because I can’t remember every detail about my kiddos when they were babies. I can’t recall every adorable moment and I’m already starting to forget just how curly Jerry’s hair was and how pink his infant skin was. But, when I look at all of the photos that I somehow managed to snap, I’m a bit proud of myself for all of those perfect moments that I was able to catch. So that I can remember.
And even better, I’m glad to have someone to share my love of staring at old pictures. That’s the best thing about having these photos, I think.
So for the moms out there, trying to get the perfect picture – don’t feel discouraged if the picture isn’t just right, the kids are being uncooperative or the house in the background is a mess. Ignore it. Get all the pictures that you can and be glad that you have it. Mine aren’t neatly put away into scrap books – yet. There will be time for that hopefully one day. For now, I’m just glad that I have what I do. I’ll take it.