I feel like that is how my life is always going to be labeled. I am a huge picture and home video person (freak, if you ask my husband) and I really enjoy going back every now and then and looking at old memories and occasionally making something out of them either for myself or for gifts. My husband complains that I am "looking back" too often because he thinks it makes me sad to see how fast time flies and how the kids have grown up so fast. I counter this complaint by claiming that my husband is too busy "looking ahead" and constantly planning for the future. Hopefully someday we'll meet somewhere in the middle and both be content with the present, right? Sounds pretty sad, but it's not. We're really a happy family. It's just that we're each different in our own way and have a different perspective on the same thing. Isn't that what it's like when you're married with children?
Anyway, back to my fettish with the past. It's not that looking at these old photos and movies makes me sad. I think the whole point of it is why I enjoy looking at them.
First of all, they remind me of Before. It's not only a younger me and prettier me, it's a completely different person, on all accounts, that I see in those pictures. That person was happy and blissful. She didn't know what it was like to have a hole in her heart. She only knew how much love her heart could hold and was constantly astounded by how much more love she kept giving and receiving. The girls and Reese were so much fun! I love raising kids--I love all the phases--but the pre-school age phases were (and are) so much fun for me. Mostly because I'm a stay-at-home mom I guess and I get the privilege of spending so much time with them at these ages. I have always been deeply deeply grateful for this opportunity. And all those memories of them remind me of that feeling.
But I had so much fun with the kids. Emma and her imagination would just crack me up and I got quite a few moments captured on video of her tea parties, acting like a princess and dramatizing her life with her sister (oh dear!). Karly was always so bull-headed (still is) and I laugh and laugh at the memories of her reacting to our orders or playing with her sister or dressing up her brother. I haven't gone through too many of Reese yet but I know I have them as well. The kids were so much fun. And I knew they were fun--I enjoyed them at those ages. But it seems like now, as I am older, I really appreciate how much fun they were and are. I do with Owen--I really enjoy him right now. I enjoy him so much more now than I would have if he were a "Before" baby because, in reality, he is a lot more challenging than his brother and sisters were. I'll get to that later but I just want to say that watching the videos reminds me how much fun our kids have made our lives. And I think that's all good. Right? It's not sad. Do I sound sad? I don't think so. I hope not. Because I'm not. I'm starting to embrace ME getting older so it's refreshing and rewarding to realize this and feel gratitude for our kids, rather than how much trouble and how difficult they make life. (Because that's true, too, isn't it?!--this post isn't about that, though!)
What I also consider when I look at the old videos, though, is how we are all different people now. This is the After part. It's not that we're sad. We are a bit sadder, yes, because we miss Chase in our lives, but we are also happy. Extremely happy. We have so much going on in our lives. Our kids are awesome. I could never say that enough. I am so completely lucky to be the mom to these kids. I love being their mom. Don't get me wrong, there are days when you could look at me and say, "remember...you get to be their mom???" and I'd look at you under a pretty strong scowl. But all in all, I love this job. I love our kids more than life itself. I can't measure the love I have for them. It's beyond measure. They are so cool. Life is so cool. Have I gone overboard yet? Because I'm just giddy with all the love I have in my heart.
Never to be forgotten the hole. And that hole brings sadness. The cloud on every sunny day. But clouds are pretty. They are happy, too. They are reminders for some of us on this earth and that's just how we live. Not everyone does and those who don't can't fully understand this. But that's how we live our lives. It makes us different from who we once were. The people in the After pictures are different and sometimes no one can tell. But we can. Every picture I look at, no matter how big the smiles, I see the difference. I see the After part in everyone of our faces, our eyes, our lips.
So is that sad? When I see the happiness we have in our hearts in the Before pictures and see the happiness in our hearts with the clouds in the After pictures? No I don't think it's sad. I think it's just a realization. A realization of this journey we are on. Now, I will say, some of it has to do with life in general. We are older now. We have different concerns, stressors and priorities. I can tell you that I was much more concerned about getting my daily exercise in those old videos--comments I made or seeing how fit I was. But the happiness......how can I (WE) be happy like that again? My husband and I have different definitions of happiness, collectively, now. We're older. I can tell you if I took a video right now of both of us, I can probably look at my video from Christmas, the air probably doesn't seem as blissful as it did from the Christmas video of '05. I'm so laid back in that video I look like I'm on something. And I wasn't. I swear. (lol!) I'm glad I can see that, though. It's something I can be aware of and work on. As I get older....just to be happy more. Not be so stressed out trying to get kids to the next thing on time or whatever it is. The reason???? Because this is what they are going to remember. Right now. (the older ones anyway.) They don't remember how cool, calm and collected (and skinny) I was back then, so it doesn't even matter! Right now is what they'll remember...am I the mom, right now, I want them to remember? Always workin' on that one!
I love being older. I love having this perspective on life. I know what I need to work on. Right now I know I need to work on my relationship with my husband. I am dying to go on a trip with the two of us--we need time AWAY alone. We do time here alone but it's not the same. It'll happen. I am also working on being the best mom. For the first year of Owen's life I was a little disappointed that I was not as good of a mom to him as I was the others. I was way more high-anxiety with him, for obvious reasons, but still I wasn't as laid back when he was a newborn. I felt cheated, in a way, that when God took Chase, he also took away my mothering capabilities. That I would never again be the same mom and Owen would miss out. He'd get the stressed out mom his entire life. The one always worried, waiting for the other shoe to drop, the one worried she'd lose him, too, one day. But I'm not feeling that way as much anymore. I am really enjoying Owen. Lack of sleep and all, I really breathe in every moment I get with him. I can be in any mood any time and if Owen needs me, I put on a happy face, a calming voice and pick him up and love on him. The older kids see that, too. Emma told me the other day that whenever I get mad, if I see Owen, I get over it much quicker or forget about whatever it was that made me mad. I play with Owen much more than I did the others, except maybe Emma. I just give Owen a lot more of my time and I'm beginning to feel, just very recently, that maybe Owen is going to get the best of me, instead of the worst of me. Maybe that's something Chase has been working on...and I'm finally getting it.
Anyhoo. This post is a bunch of stuff. Ended up being a lot of what was on my mind. I love watching the old movies. Always will. The kids will hate it when they get married, I'll have the best videos of them to share with everyone for their rehearsal dinners. I'm still working on my photo album for '11 so I have an excuse to keep going through last years photos. Some days I"m still learning who the After me is. It takes a while to really get to know someone new, you know.