Old Photos

Work has still been busy enough, there’s still plenty of laundry and meals to make, and I’ve been working out more than usual. But I’ve still got extra time that I’d normally spend on driving daughters to practices or watching sports or running errands, and as you can see, I haven’t been spending it all writing here.

One project is my Christmas scrapbook. I am not a huge scrapbooking lady by any means, but I am coming off the recent triumph of completing a soccer scrapbook for M in record time, so this self-isolation period is the perfect time to turn to the Christmas scrapbook that’s been silently judging me from a shelf for years. Literally. Years. Because I boasted about this fabulous Christmas scrapbook way-the-hell back in 2010, at which point I was very proud of what I had put together. But of course then I didn’t get around to updating it for years. And so I started to not pull it out at Christmas time. And then when I finally did pull it out, with the plan to finish it, I started regretting that I had used basic white paper instead of adorable Christmas-themed paper. So I ordered some paper with the plan that I’d revamp the whole thing. But instead I just added the pretty paper to to the stack of supplies and pictures and souvenirs that I still wasn’t assembling together into a scrapbook.

But now is my time! I’m seizing the day! I mail-ordered prints from Shutterfly, and since I usually don’t order from them, they gave me 101 free 4×6 prints along with some other gewgaws in return for coughing up my email address. A bargain I was happy to strike. And I am still in the remaking-the-boring-old-pages stage of the process, but it’s immensely satisfying. I particularly love that you can create a lovely product even with zero talent. There are scrapbook artists out there (I’m lookin’ at you, June!), but I am not one of them, so I am happy to lean on pretty paper, fun stickers, and the faces of my very adorable children.

It is also somehow very soothing to see these pictures of years gone by. There is nothing to remind you that “this, too, shall pass” as much as paging through the years that feel like both yesterday and a million years ago.

Another diversion has been the Being a Mom challenge on Facebook. I pretty much always hate these “challenges.” I take them Way. Too. Seriously. Like, if you’re going to ask me about my favorite albums or my favorite novels, I will think way too hard about my choices, and then I’ll second-guess my choices, and then I’ll stress about how there is music that I always tried to like and couldn’t and how I mostly like potentially embarrassing music, and I don’t remember which songs are on which albums and I’d have to research all the albums to make appropriate choices. Or there are books that I really love which sound like pretentious choices, so I don’t want to share them. But also, how can you choose just ten novels? I feel like I would need to create sub-categories, and you’re never supposed to explain your choices, and I really, really like to explain things (ask my kids). All of which I understand is completely overthinking everything, and nobody actually cares, and none of it matters, and I am being completely unreasonable. And then I feel bad about myself. Or I am supposed to tag a new person every day, but then I fret about tagging people. Am I putting someone on the spot? Am I close enough friends with this person to tag them, or is tagging them presumptuous? Plus tagging someone each day requires choosing an order for individuals and potentially leaving someone out. And anyway, why don’t I have more friends, and what is wrong with me that I am really not close with anyone from high school, and is it me? Am I deficient or unworthy or irritating? How should I have lived my life differently so that I could have the kind of close circle of gal pals that I’d share weekly cocktails with and travel with on a girls’ beach vacation? All of which makes me supremely uncomfortable and sad and I have to convince myself that probably I’m actually just fine and normal and perhaps I need a prescription for anti-anxiety medication? And I also sort of hate challenges that have an apparent brag within them: look at this beautiful picture of me! Look at my splendid children! Here’s the fabulous meal I cooked! It all feels icky and uncomfortable for me. Even though I do enjoy (mostly) pictures of other people looking beautiful and other children looking splendid and other meals that look fabulous. But I really like to save up my “braggy” posts for when I can no longer restrain myself because I’m practically bursting with pride. I don’t want to squander them unnecessarily because I try to limit that stuff.

Wow, dude. . . that was a lot, huh? I’ve got some issues. Clearly. But anyway, I had just gotten tagged in something where I was supposed to post a cute photo of myself, and I was fretting about not participating in that one when I got tagged on Being a Mom. And so then I was pondering both of these and trying to decide whether I’d participate. Because, as I’ve said, I overthink these things way too much. And I finally decided to set rules for myself, which were that I would share photos in which I actually appeared and that I’d try to find illustrations of quintessential mommy-ness, flattering or not. So I started with a photo of me yawning so hugely that you can see the fillings in my teeth, continued with a happy kid in a messy, messy house, then a picture of me laughing after a kid climbed into my lap and started eating the breakfast I’d just made for myself. I shared photos of the chaos in between the good pictures, like camping out on the sidewalk before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, stopping to read a guide book while being tourists in Europe, the exhausted car nap after an outing, and my pregnant belly fading into the background at M’s birthday party.

I had so much fun curating my 10-photo collection that I was a little sad when the challenge was over. The whole thing became a meditation on gratitude. Cute W take a lot of pictures–so, so many pictures–and as I hunted for which ones to include, I found images that I either hadn’t known about or had forgotten. Seeing pictures of those long-ago little girls and remembering those candid moments was lovely. But, most of all, it made made me (even more) grateful for Cute W. Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone who not only knows how to take good pictures but is attentive to all of those little moments and able to capture them with so much love.


  1. Aliza

    Well, you made me cry. This was my favorite picture, and I’m really sentimental about marriage. Thanks for sharing.

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