Look at these photos. Adorable, right? How do they make you feel? Warm and fuzzy maybe? Wistful? Well, they kill me. Send me into a tailspin of tears, and no, I am not PMS-ing.
It all started a few days ago, innocently enough, to show McLean some videos of when he was a baby. I had been dreading dragging them out of the hard drive and putting them in the new photo system on the laptop we got forever ago because I knew what was going to happen. Even Derek saw the videos coming out while he was making dinner and quietly uttered an “uh-oh.” He knew I would be binge-watching videos of both kids being babies; they would be laughing hysterically at themselves and I would be crying hysterically. At they baby-ness.
I don’t even remember recording them. Any of them. I don’t even recognize my own voice. I had a different Baby Mama Voice. It was soft and encouraging and amused: “Hey, big fella! Whatchoo doin’? You sure are working those muscles for tummy time. Look at you go!” over the soft little be-boop-de-boop-de-boop sounds their cute little toys made. Breastfeeding pillow ever-present like a third pet.
Those videos are nothing like the Naggy Bitch Voice I constantly engage these days whilst shouting to be heard over the Warriors game or Teen Titans Go: “You forgot to put the toilet seat down! Close your mouth when you chew! We’re leaving in TWO MINUTES WHY ARE YOU STILL NOT DRESSED? Don’t wipe your nose on the couch, ew! I have enough to do around here without picking up your scrillions of Legos!” etc., etc.
The thing is, back then, I can only recall a feeling of being overwhelmed, not the peaceful serene little snippets I see in the videos. The first one overwhelmed me with how much sheer heartbreaking love I felt for him that seemed to engulf my very soul. Took over my being completely. The long hours. The lack of sleep. The confusion of constantly feeling lonely but never being alone. And the ever-present mother’s love that everyone tells you about but you are never prepared for just how earth-shattering and deep it really is.
Then the second one came and I cried constantly because I loved him just as much as his brother, but was also reminiscing about the first one being a baby, and all those profound emotions. My strongest memory of that time is McLean loving the show Yo Gabba Gabba, and the episode about babies was his favorite. Every time I heard the songs on that episode I just broke down into tears. It was like a Pavlovian response. And dealing with even less sleep, more work, less time for myself. These videos are my only real link to that time, to that person I was, to the eyes I saw my little world through.
I also didn’t realize it at the time, but I was really unhappy with where we lived. Now we live somewhere else, and though I didn’t think I had any attachment to the house we left, I realize now in looking at it in the photos and videos that I do. It was the first home my babies knew, and there are things about it that I really miss now: the huge backyard, the master suite, the old bathroom tile. Things we did to make it cute and make it ours that we can’t do in a 100 year old rental home that is quite literally crumbling at the edges due to lack of TLC. I really wished we could have picked up our house and dropped it here in SLO. But at the time, I lumped the house in with all the other things I had grown disenfranchised with about living in the area and I just wanted a new beginning.
I love where we live now, so much. It was the best decision for our family and I would do it all again. But I feel a little sad now about the skid marks I left driving away from my kids’ first home.
What is the point of this post? I don’t know. Does missing your children as babies ever go away? I hope so. Because eventually I will have to make a baby photo album, right?