Sunday, November 13

Looking Back

Our family has the somewhat schmaltzy tradition of taking time, each child's birthday, to look back at the photos and videos of the day he or she was born.

Let's be clear that I instituted this tradition, and I am also the only one who tears up each time.

We recently celebrated the birthdays of Nate and Jackson, and we oohed and aahed our way through the moments they first met the world and the moments they first met their siblings and the moments where they muttered unintelligible words. Side note: I am amazed by my linguistic abilities in the past. Toddler-speak is much more difficult than Spanish!

I digress. In the weeks leading up to our move to Guatemala 3 1/2 years ago, Steve spent hours transferring our home movies and pictures to our computers. I spent hours this week going through them, and my heart simply welled up.

First, I asked myself HOW I could possibly be the parent of three such beautiful children when, inside, I still feel like I have the maturity of a 20 year old? Surely, somebody is going to knock on my door and say, "Thanks for babysitting. I'll take them home now!"

Second, nobody, and I mean noooobody looks good in the days and weeks after having a baby. Husbands and family should be required to sign an agreement that, upon punishment of death, they will photoshop said photos.

Third, and the real point here is this: sometimes I have avoided looking back at old pictures because, let's face it, life is messy. Not all memories are sweet. Some aren't even bittersweet. They're downright painful. So it's easier just to choose to ignore the memories altogether. But, when I sifted through those old photos this week, I was reminded again of what a rich and amazing life I've had so far in my 38ish years, of what laughs and antics I've performed trying to get kiddos to smile for a photo, of the tiredness and zombieness of having 3 kids under the age of 5, of the sheer joy of FINALLY getting that baby to laugh WHILE the video camera is rolling! The trips, the Christmases, the simple moments of playing in the backyard and drinking from the hose. The books we've read, the people we've come to treasure, the fashions we've thought looked good!

Life hasn't always made sense, but it has been rich in love, in family, in friendships....and it's even been adventurous at times!

God reminded his people to remember, to look back at the blessings and the miracles he'd performed. I'm sure not all of their memories were good either, but if they reminded each other of the gifts and miracles  in their lives, they could travel farther and stronger and be encouraged together.

So today I look back with a full heart. Life is never perfect, no matter what our Facebook statuses sometimes say. But we can remember how far we have come and how many new memories and photos are still ahead.

In the meantime, I have to go break up an argument in the backyard over who is winning in the Nerf battle. But maybe I'll take a photo first. Just to remember.