This morning Babydoll climbed up to the kitchen sink and began splashing gleefully in the oatmeal pot that was soaking after breakfast. The picture doesn't do justice to the soggy oatmeal floaters that flew in each splash, and truly the mess was minor compared to what I have experienced with my boys in the past, but as I ran for the camera, I was transported in an instant. Those bittersweet feelings of deja-vu and the passage of time mingled together to catch in my throat.
I know you've had them too. I remember how hard they could be in the early days ~how I often wished I could just cry, and often ~ often ~ did. When the children are all Littles and no Bigs, things can be harried, hustled and more than you can keep up with. One turn of your back and trouble can lead to hours of clean up time for the Momma. I know. I remember.
One thing I learned when my first four were all under four, (and I think it came from Martha Sears from the Baby Book) was the concept of, "Don't get mad, get the camera." When the Littles get into trouble of the I-can't remember-when-I've seen-such-a-mess variety, I'd quickly (as long as they were safe in the midst of the mess) run to grab the camera and record the moment for
I didn't remember every time, but I remembered often enough to have a slough of (now) comical pictures to help me remember that season. There was the Literary Lady and the brand new tube of ruby red lipstick and the Engineer who dumped the five pound bag of flour on his head... both caught on film to crystallize the memories. The too-cute shot of the Dreamer who had a quirky habit of dipping his head into the toilet every chance he got and the boys who unloaded a 25 pound bag of spaghetti noodles onto their bedroom floor are proof that boys are not girls. They help me remember a season when I was running so hard I had little time to soak up the memories. I was just trying to survive.
The times I did not get pictures, are memories not as clear...the memories' edges are fading and curled...threatening to fade into obscurity. Regarding the three dozen eggs liberally-but-carefully crushed and scattered throughout the kitchen, I can barely remember the culprit without promptings from the children. There is no picture to take me back. I remember the day during my fifth pregnancy that I awoke from a first trimester induced accidental nap on the couch to sounds of water running and tiny voices saying, "Oh, no... you're going to drown him!". There is no picture to show what I passed on my way to the bathroom voices. Nothing to show the entire box of cereal and a gallon of milk all over the kitchen floor and glitter sprinkled on every horizontal surface of the ground floor. I found the "big kids" (at their ages then, the term is used loosely) washing the glitter from the feet of the Dreamer in the bathroom sink.
Not only do I wish I had a picture, I wish I could revisit that time. To return more mature, more disciplined, more patient...more cognizant of the importance of living IN the moment. Knowing that I cannot... I do the next best thing. I encourage you.
When the going gets rough...don't get mad. Take a picture. One day you may wish you had.