There are some things that simply can’t be understood without experiencing them. When someone tells a new mother “It goes by quickly” or “The days are long, but the years are short,” chances are good that she won’t be able to fully comprehend it. She may just think those are the lines that every experienced parent passes along to new parents to try to help them through the struggles. She may actually imagine with great anticipation the day that she no longer has to change diapers. She may simply nod her exhausted head while secretly hoping that the sleepless nights indeed go by quickly.
Until the day she wakes up and realizes that her babies are no longer babies.
And she wonders how it happened.
And she can remember moments and milestones, but the sizes and the sounds and the specifics seem so far out of reach. There are surely memories between her fingertips of silky soft strands of hair curled in perfect arcs, and somewhere on her lips are warm kisses on the baby-fat bellies, and there must be an echo in her ears of squeaky voices that can’t say their Rs. Recalling those single traits alone can be fairly easy, but when they grow and change so rapidly, remembering those little babies as a whole person feels nearly impossible. It’s like memories are segmented, categorized, and rendered incomplete as they’re stored in every corner of the mind. It takes something powerful and nearly magical to pull them back together.
Something like a photograph.
Although images are only a representation of a moment, they hold a certain magic in retelling what memory can’t always convey. They record beauty, chaos, and emotions we often forget existed in that fraction of a second (and just HOW did those fractions of seconds so quickly became passing years?). The messy rooms and piles of laundry in hallways, the fits and tears, and the tiny smiles with varying numbers of teeth are the details a mind can lose along the way. And those are exactly the things I know I’ll want to keep.
When I started this project four years ago, I knew it would be important to me at the time, but I had no idea how much more meaningful the recollection of that ordinary day would become as the years passed. When I attempted it again two years ago, I noted how unimpressed I was with the images I created that day, but now I love each and every one of the photos dearly. Those are days full of details I didn’t realize I’d miss, and miss so desperately.
These will be the days I so desperately miss years from now.
So here are my beloved boys on an ordinary Tuesday in November of 2016. Here’s to appreciating fractions of seconds, and finally realizing how quickly they become years.
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