Preserving the Past

Before my first child was born, I remember a certain new mother anxiously showing me photos of her newborn son.  As I “oohed” and “awed” over the never ending stack of photos from the first three weeks of his life, I started to notice that there would be several that seemed to be exactly the same.  Every ten pictures or so the outfit would change, but for those ten photos, everything seemed to be identical.  Same blanket, same clothing, even the same position.  When I asked what she was going to do with the double or even triple copies, she - obviously confused - said “What?  There is only one set here.”  “Well, why do you have so many of the same picture?” I questioned.  She pointed out that there were in fact differences.  A slight change in the direction the baby was looking, or the placement of the hands...detectable only by her it seemed.  We laughed as she realized and then confessed that she had to have all the photos of her baby...that she could not possibly just choose one of the identical ten.  At the time I thought it rather silly that she could not select the best one or two in that particular outfit to have printed and just save the rest.  What was she really going to do with ten similar photos, I joked to myself, put them into an album side by side?  

It wasn't until I was flipping through my own newborn’s snapshots that I had taken, fretting over which to get printed, then deciding on them all that I realized I was now the one being silly.  I laughed as I looked at the pictures, and then became quite serious as I realized I could not choose just one from the ten similar photos.  To dismiss any of my precious baby’s moments captured on film just because it was nearly identical to another would be like I was choosing to dismiss that particular moment of his little life, and as a mother how could I possibly let one go?  I needed to preserve them all.

While that was some time ago, this challenge continues to linger and as time has gone by, I continue to be overwhelmed by the fact that my children’s precious moments are slipping by much too fast and I am having difficulty keeping up with documenting all  that I want to preserve.  I worry that I am not capturing enough of these moments and that I will regret my lack of effort.   Every night as I lay my two-year-old down to sleep, I am reminded that another day has gone by and my little boy is another day bigger and older and that the way he said a particular word or what he was so excited about today might never be experienced again as he is growing up.   Sometimes I take a moment with him sleeping - getting heavier and heavier - in my arms to just relive the day, hoping, praying that I won’t forget.   Because regardless of the countless photos I take of my kids in the bath or making funny faces with their dad, the entries in their memory journals of what adorable thing they are currently saying or doing,  the calendar of the dates of accomplishments like the first smile or the first word, I often feel like I am coming up short.  Is it unreasonable to want to remember all these cherished moments?  How can I let them go?  People - often strangers - always tell me to enjoy my kids while they are little, because before I know it, they will have children of their own.  I try desperately to do so, yet each day slips by taking new discoveries as well as everyday moments that are anything but mundane with it.  And despite my best efforts, I cannot down...
So even now as I look at my own children’s photo albums - with the ten nearly identical photos side by side of course! - trying desperately to remember those precious moments, I realize that I am just another silly mom who loves her kids so much that she cannot possibly choose just one to print. My reminiscing is cut short as I am quickly distracted by the giggles coming from the next room belonging to my little darlings and this brings me back to the present and all the current joy I have in my life. At the same time I am reminded that what this means is that I need to just enjoy every passing day realizing that while I won’t be able to recreate each precise moment that has already passed, I do get to look forward to all the new moments yet to be created.  And from what my own mother tells me about the continuous joy she receives from her now grown children, there are countless moments to look forward to.  I can’t spend my time trying to memorize the past, because if I do, I will make a mistake far worse than not preserving each moment; I will miss out on enjoying the present.  

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