Updated: Feb 26, 2022
We recently hired Michael's Computer Services (highly recommend) to come over and organize our life's photos, and subsequently began downloading photos to various places. After realizing that the evidence of the first 18 months of our oldest's life were on an unknown, unlabeled, misplaced storage device, a late night meltdown ensued, and problem solving was first priority.
Jason checked all the regular storage spaces: computer space, safe, mail organizer, closets, etc. and we were both a bit puzzled over where this storage device was located or if it had been thrown out in the move. It didn't help that we couldn't exactly remember what kind of device the photos were loaded onto, but we both remembered Jason moving things around.
Tears were shed as I processed losing the documentation of Ed's early years. In the blur of having a large family and so much life happening over the first five years of our marriage, I hardly remember Ed's first couple of years without photos prompting my memory. I went through an expedited grieving process as I tried to wrap my mind around this loss.
Then one day Jason came to me and hopefully said, "I found this external hard drive, and I think I remember putting things on here because it was formatted to a Mac. But because it's formatted for Mac, I can't access it... I think this might have what we're looking for." A connection to Michael for his computer services later, and the photos were recovered and responsibly stored (in several places). Thank goodness.
As we've began storing photos in a more organized and responsible way, I've had the opportunity to look back through the years, at our life.
It's so easy to look back at our children's childhoods and think of all the things we've done wrong. All the things we wish we could change. All the things we didn't know at the time that we wish we could go back and gently whisper to ourselves.
Mine would be: Be gentle. Relax your jaw, take a deep breath. You're doing great. Here's information on post partum anxiety. Here's the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, read it and lean into it. Commit to doing things you love. You are the perfect mom for your kiddos.
But we can't go back and whisper those things and place tidbits in our brains that weren't already there. Semi-unfortunately for the oldest kiddos, they truly are the guinea pig(s) of the family and we all simply have to endure the process of becoming a family together.
As I look back at these photos, which are completely unedited, the candid shots are still there, there's the messy, the blurry, the mad, the elated, the day to day videos, I realize we were doing so much more than simply enduring.
Mentally I look back and see my shortcomings, the things I would shift if I could. But these photographs show life, love, pure joy. They are a reminder that while I didn't have the knowledge I now hold, I was learning. I had to be the mother I was so I could grow into the mother I am.
When you look back on your life as a mother, what do you see? The yelling, the lost patience, the critical, snappy moments?
Or the lullabies, the cuddles, the laughter, the collaboration, the growth, the effort, the pivots, and the transformation that envelops you throughout motherhood?
It's so easy to focus on the could haves, on the if I'd only, and the small moments when we feel like failures.
But as we zoom out and view our life through the entire lens, there is so much more to this picture. There are repairs and apologies, personal growth and ownership that we don't see because they're intangible. They're hard to pinpoint and decipher through the busyness, chaos, and hustle of these early years.
As you look back on your lifelong career as a parent, do yourself a favor and be conscious to look through the entire lens. If you need a little help, take a stroll through memory lane with your photo feed (and for the love of God, back those photos up onto two external hard drives).
These days are sweet.