I Was There, Too!

Every year for Mother’s Day, I make our moms a little photo book of all our best pictures from the year. They have quite a collection built up already, and I have fun seeing the changes in our family from year to year as I work on the photo books.

But I made a sad discovery as I put the albums together this year this year – there were no pictures of me. There were about a million of Everett, of course, with Kaylia coming in as a close second. Ben showed up a healthy number of times, but Anika made less appearances than other years because she’s entered her, “Don’t take a picture of me!!!!” teenager shrieking stage, but I still managed to get a few shots which she considered acceptable. But I’m completely absent in the photo book, because I’m always the one taking the photos.

I love taking photos, and I’m passionate about seeking out the beautiful little moments in our ordinary life, but apparently I have a problem with remembering to include myself. It’s my goal to change this, because someday, when our kids look back on the pictures from when they were little, I want them to see my holding them, caring for them, reading stories to them, in the kitchen cooking,  exercising, or whatever – all the little things they see me doing every day. I guess I want to see that, too, when I’m a little old lady, looking back on my life of lovely memories.

While I was reading to Everett before his nap today, snuggling and singing to him before putting him in his crib, he squirmed around until he was facing me, put his hands on both my cheeks, and said, “I love you, Mommy.” Then he messed up my hair, stroked it back down into place, and said, “You look nice with long hair!” (Which came out more like, “You wook nice wiff wong hair!”) He told me he loved me a few more times, then settled down with his head on my shoulder, and my heart exploded. 🙂 I want to remember all these sweet moments, but I also want the pictures to look back on, and they should include me, too.

We spent the long weekend at the lake, and I made a conscious effort to hand the camera off to someone else sometimes, so there’s proof I was there, as well! When I told my family about what I was doing, Ben argued that he takes lots of pictures of me. This is true, but most of them aren’t good pictures, because Ben delights in catching me at super awkward moments. He takes a million pictures all at once, hoping there will be at least one good one, and giggling at all the terrible ones, and then I have to delete the 999,999 bad pictures, and seriously edit the one decent picture, which is all very time consuming, so I guess I’ve become unmotivated to make it happen. But I have fresh incentive to give him another chance, so we’ll see how that goes.

In the meantime, here’s a peak at our first weekend at the lake this spring, and I was there, too!;)

 

We used to drive this stretch every week or two when we were living at camp. It was a pain to be two hours away from civilization in a lot of ways, but Ben and I always had the best time talking on those drives. Those hours in the van are something we look forward to, and the scenery, conversation, and bags of chips make the time pass quickly.:)

My parents spend the winter in Florida, and my older sister’s family lives an hour away from us, so it feels like family gets a bit disconnected during the winter months. Spring means getting back together again regularly, and the long weekend in May is when we always head out to the cabin together. It rained the whole time, so there was a lot of movie watching, game playing, and rock painting.

We celebrated Kaylia’s birthday there, and it was her dream to bake an Angel Food birthday cake with Grandma.

And if the goal is for my kids to look back on pictures of what they see me doing every day, then a picture of me taking pictures is appropriate!

Now I’m curious to hear – do you struggle with capturing your everyday moments, or are you a selfie-loving pro?!

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Motivation To Do This All Over Again

Most of the time, I like being a stay-at-home mom. I love taking care of our girls, and I’ve made myself learn to like cooking and taking care of our home. And I’ve always just loved being at home.

But there are always times when I get frustrated or discouraged about things being so repetitive, or when my work feels so useless.  Why wash the floor when it will get dirty the very next time someone comes in the door? Why try to teach the girls how to communicate better when they’ll just start fighting again in about two seconds? Why fold all the laundry when it will just get used up again?

laundry

Usually, these feelings mean I need to get out of the house, and have a break so that I can remember why I’m doing all of this in the first place. I need to remind myself why it all matters, because otherwise, my life starts feeling very, very small.

But this week, I started reading an incredible book, and I’m being reminded all over again that the small things, done faithfully, make a big difference in the long run. All the ways in which I’m trying to create a home for my family will impact them in some way, even if they don’t know exactly how.

Meaning hides in repetition: We do this every day or every week because it matters. We are connected by this thing we do together. We matter to one another. In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime (with a hot water bottle at our feet on winter evenings), Saturday morning pancakes. (Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne, p.98)

When I was growing up, my mom always did laundry in the same way: she sorted all of the clothing into similar colors, and then she spread out a shirt or a towel over the pile, to make it look neat and keep it together until she threw the pile into the washing machine. That is just how it was done.

Did it impact my childhood in any way? No, except that it was normal and predictable. I would have noticed if she hadn’t done it. Something would have been off. It wouldn’t have felt like my mom doing the laundry.

Or I remember the way she answered me when I called. I would yell out, “Mommy?” And she would, without fail, call back, “What-y?”

One day, I guess she thought I was old enough to move past this tradition, and she answered my call with “What?” And then I cried.

Even when I started referring to her as “Mom” instead of “Mommy”, when I called out for her, I would still say “Mommy”, just so that she would answer with her rhyming “What-y?”

Such little, little things. Family jokes and traditions, like my dad always being late for lunch on the days when we were having fried potatoes. He had no way of knowing, it just always worked out that way. My mom would be frying the potatoes at the stove, and we’d all say, “Oh, Dad will be late for lunch! It’s fried potatoes!”

Or popcorn balls for night lunch, while we all watched Brady Bunch episodes together as a family, convincing my dad to let us watch just one more before we had to go to bed.

And the decoy ducks that floated in our pond every year, long after my mom figured out the joke, and learned they weren’t real.

Or sitting on the big swing with my mom on a spring evening when the lilacs or apple blossoms were in bloom, talking until it was so dark that we could hardly see my dad coming across the lawn to join us after his long day of work.

Oh, those were the happy days.

And now Ben and I have the chance to create our own happy days. Listing “Favorite Things of the Day” at supper each evening. Family walks. Reading stories in bed. Saturday morning pancakes and “happy music”.

pancakes

The other day, Kaylia said to me, “Tomorrow morning, I will do a play with the Barbies, while Daddy makes breakfast and Mommy exercises.”

Because that’s what we do, and she knows it. If the girls get up in the morning, and I’m not stretching on the living room floor, they’re a little lost, and have no idea where to find me.

I wonder what things my girls will remember the most. I’m sure my mom never thought I’d remember the laundry piles covered with T-shirts and towels. Or her red kerchief over her hair on baking days.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Some things we do intentionally. We try to build a good home, and good memories for our children. We carefully create family moments and times of bonding.

But some things just happen. And because we are creatures of habits, we do the same, quirky little things that give predictability and comfort, just because the quirks belong to the members of our family – the people we love.

I think the best family moments are a mixture of both. Plan to have fun, but also embrace the way things just are. Notice them. Remember them. Soak in the every day things, the normal stuff.

And then wake up tomorrow, and do it all over again.

Meaning hides in repetition.