Between Pinterest and Mommy blogs, I am really stressing out. My first (and only) son’s babyhood is flying by. Three days ago, he was two weeks old, and now – somehow, defying physics- he is 15 months old.
This loss of time, this rush of calendar days makes my heart race. I stagger under the pressure of not missing anything, being fully present, wanting to document everything. I am soul suckingly terrified that I will forget his favorite books, the softness of his skin, how he yells “ow-sigh” at the top of his lungs, the absolute heart rending sound of his voice when he asks for “heeph?”. What if I forget how tiny and sweet he looks sitting in my rocking chair reading Little Blue Truck? And he really reads it too… he has the first word of every other page memorized. So he sits there, rocking, his size five feet don’t come close to the edge of the seat cushion, and you hear “Honk!” and “vroom”, and my favorite, “Hep. Hep. Hep” on page nine. What if I forget?
I have already forgotten so much: The incessant early morning wail that filled our house during the first three weeks of his life. The intense pain I felt at his first vaccinations. The moment when I realized I actually loved him. The first lullaby I made up.
I take pictures and videos constantly. But even with evidence, what do I do with the pictures and videos? It isn’t enough that there are 1300 pictures of my toddler on my phone because I want more substantial documentation of his every second. Shutterfly has become my frenemy. My need to make photo books of my son is secondary to my hatred of how hard-pressed I feel to make photo books of my son. What pictures do I use? Do I write it in first or third person? Maybe I should just order 17 canvases from his first birthday photo shoot? But I don’t want him to grow up thinking he is the center of the world, and I am pretty sure that wallpapering the house with every facial expression he’s ever made will warp his budding personality. And now I feel guilty; I don’t have nearly as many pictures of my husband, who I love more than I can reasonably explain (Never mind that my hubby flees from all pictures and views family photo sessions with the dread normally reserved for trips to the dentist). I log off Shutterfly within three minutes because I can’t decide whether the 16×20 print or the 12×12 photo book best represent how desperately I love these people.
Writing stuff down helps. For one thing, now I have some memories documented (Little Blue Truck, for one), but I still feel pressure to capture him, to remember him and this moment from all angles.
But it’s too much. I am stressing myself out documenting how much I enjoy my son, so then I enjoy the moments less because I am worried about the right lighting, the right layout, missing a nuance.
I think I am afraid I will forget how much I love our son. Afraid that I will take him, and this time for granted.
Reflectively, I don’t remember every single first moment with my husband. I certainly don’t have photographic documentation of each memory. But I know how much I love him. I know that our lives are so intertwined and complimentary that I can’t live with out him. And I don’t need photographs and videos to prove it. Our relationship is proven in each daily mundane act: me packing his lunch, him filling my car with gas.
I don’t want to take either of my people for granted, but hyper-awareness of time is dangerous. It creates urgency out of seconds; instead of relishing the time, I count it down and lose it- totally unaware that it’s gone. I am stuck mourning the last “first time”. I did this when I was dating my husband; I counted the hours we spent together so much so that it became a game of time. I do this during girl’s night outs or days with my Mom.
My reasons are good. I love my people so much. But constant checking of time, constant worrying about the future, constant pressure to capture the moment, leaves me outside of it. I can relive these memories through pictures, but my son can’t. All he has is his perception of now-this second. My husband didn’t know that counting the hours and minutes we were together were acts of love – he did know that I kept constant watch, and I think it caused unneeded pressure on our young relationship. I can’t keep time in my hands; my obsession doesn’t guarantee that I’ll have more time with my Mom — it just promises pressure that isn’t necessary.
It isn’t about the pictures or the videos or the canvas prints on my walls or the photo books in my bookcase. Obviously, I am grateful for every image I have of my sweet boy, but it is about a feeling, the brief breath of a moment, and wanting to hang on to the sweetness that is motherhood, the excitement that is true love, the safety of being someone’s daughter. I want to hang on, and fear I’ll forget some aspect once these moments have passed.