Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Picture Book

If you have a Facebook account you are well aware of the See Your Memories feature. If you don’t have an account here’s a brief rundown. Facebook gathers your memories from that particular day from a year, two, five or even six years ago and reminds you of exactly what you did that day all those years ago. OK so in the grand scheme of life five years really isn’t all that long ago. Most high schools don’t even host a five year reunion. I mean what would be the point am I right? Five years post-graduation doesn’t allow you to miss people enough to care about asking them a million questions about what they are up to now. Just me?

Unlike the President of your graduating class, Facebook doesn’t want you to miss a memory so they don’t care if it was a mere five years ago. They want you to see your memories and they hope it’s going to make you feel all the feels. Sometimes my memories make me feel nothing because it’s just a whole day of things I shared that I thought were funny, or maybe a recipe I wanted to make or a picture of a bird. Why the heck did I take a picture of a flipping bird? I apologize to all my friends. I digress. Other times Facebook succeeds and makes me feel all the feels. ALL. THE. FEELS.

This tends to happen when I haphazardly pull up Facebook on my phone while my boys are busy getting their backpacks on (also known as wrestling until I lose my mind) and BAM it’s a picture of my seven year old as a newborn. Oh it’s like a kick to the gut. Then wham a video of my almost five year old learning to crawl. OH FOR THE LOVE! I love reminiscing just as much as the next person but I can’t always handle the reminder that my boys have grown and changed faster than I thought.
You see the mornings are crazy, after school is nuts, trying to make dinner is chaotic and bedtime, oh geez I’m tired just thinking about that fiasco. So it’s not always easy to step back and take a breath. It’s not easy to think about how far my boys have come from the days of snuggles and blowout diapers. Yet here we are in a new place of wedgies and fart noises and on the days I think I can’t take one more minute, Facebook shows me a picture of them as toddlers covered in pudding and I laugh and laugh.

Every time Facebook shows me a memory I am immediately thrown back into a time when things were simpler yet somehow hard. I find myself reminded of so much more than the fact that I look older (and oh man do I), or that they look older, or that time has moved. I am reminded that with each stage of parenthood there are new challenges, new things to learn and new little people developing right in front of me. I felt so focused on their development when they were babies because that is what we are taught to do. We are taught to watch for their milestones, make sure they are pooping enough, eating enough, sleeping enough etc. Now that they are older I find myself focusing on making sure everything is done for school. I make sure they make all their activities and have a packed lunch with the appropriate number of snacks.

I stress about making the right amount of events for each of them so they both feel special and loved. I want to make sure they are both reading enough and not getting too much screen time. I want them to play outside and drink plenty of water. I want, I stress, I need and I love over these two human beings that didn’t even exist at one time in my life. I lived thirty three years without knowing them yet here I am unable to imagine living a day without them.

I have learned to love the See Your Memories feature on Facebook but the thing is I don’t need it to know what we were doing five years ago. Sure I might not remember what we were doing this exact day five years ago, but somehow when you become a parent you create a picture book in your mind. It’s an amazing feature. I go to it often. In fact today as I watched my four year old run around with his friends at a preschool sports program I remembered watching his brother do the same while I held him in my arms and fed him his bottle. As my seven year old got off the school bus today I remembered the days I used to see our neighbor’s kids do the same. One of them is a police officer now. Time moves. It moves for everyone.

The beauty of time moving for parents is the ability to see our children grow and change. My parents have a tree in their front yard that was a tiny little thing when I was little. I never noticed it growing but today it stands tall. It stands proud. It was growing all those years right in front of me. That tree grew much like my children do, day after day, year after year right in front of me. It’s the picture book in our minds that allows us to realize just how much they have grown.

I will continue to look at the memories Facebook provides me but I will forever hold onto the memories I am creating in my mind. One day I will be that old lady who tells young moms how fast it goes. Sure I hate when people say it to me, but I think that’s because I know it’s true. Parenthood is hard. Anyone who says otherwise is lying, but I look at it this way, the beginning of a great novel can move slowly. The middle feels steady and interesting. The end always goes way too fast and when you get to that last line you always wish it didn’t have to end. You often find yourself wanting to start the book all over again. I think that’s why people with grown kids always tell those of us who are in the middle of all the chaos with little ones to enjoy it. They got to the end of that great book and they would do anything to read it all over again from the beginning. We are all writing our own story and just like any great novel it will be full of ups and downs but in the end it is our story with the characters we created and just like our Facebook memories, it will be one we will look at over and over again for quite some time. 

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