Yesterday I spent most of the morning backing up my old eMac hard drive onto my external hard drive, so that I could have all my pictures and videos and things in one place. (Note to all readers: Have you backed up your junk lately? No? GO DOOO IT.) This inevitably led me to combing through my old stuff-- getting rid of a million pictures that I no longer need from past ebay auctions and organizing all of our family photos.
Guess what I discovered in my sifting? Ezra used to be a baby.
I know, I know... so weird!
As I was clicking through the memories, a simple tap of my finger recalling emotions and events long forgotten, I couldn't help but feel that if I could go back and have that time with my son all over again, I would have done things a little differently.
With Ezra, in the past, I always felt like I was stuck in a mode of "I can't wait until this gets easier" living. I simply COULD NOT WAIT until he could start talking and going to school and doing things on his own. This thought and this desire subconsciously dominated every single day of our lives together. And as I was scrolling through my memories yesterday, I could suddenly see that ugly truth staring back at me. Like it colored every photo and swam through every video. It was blatant. And I felt regret.
The first three years of Ezra's life were an ongoing struggle for me. A struggle to put myself aside and accept my new role as a mother. I honestly just couldn't wait until it got easier for me, so that I could regain some semblance of who I'd been before I gave birth. I think some of this is natural and healthy- a desire to retain an identity apart from your children is obviously essential to, oh, you know, your SANITY and MARRIAGE and whatnot- but now, looking back, I can see that I was far too concerned with the "easier" future, and painfully unaware of the incalculable worth in the moments racing so swiftly by me.
As I scrolled through the images, I felt this swelling maternal urge to reach through the computer screen, scoop up that tiny, precious boy, and hug him tightly to my chest. I wanted nothing more than to reach back in time and whisper sweet praises in his bitty ears- reassuring him that he was doing great and I cherished him for where he was at right that moment. I wanted to reach back through time and gently take my own hand... to reassure myself that it would not always be so hard and that I needed to lighten up... a lot. And ENJOY my son.
Because, now? Now I feel like we've reached some of the "easier days ahead" living that I've been clawing my way towards these 3 and a half years. Ezra is independent and verbal and he can get dressed all by himself. He goes to school. He is well-mannered and listens to his mom and dad extremely well. I am so proud of him, and am enjoying him like I never have before. He's got my heart on a string like a helium balloon. And all those years of difficulty are finally beginning to take shape in the boy he's becoming, and I CAN SEE IT! With my own eyes!
Along with being able to finally see the wonderful fruits of my labor as his momma, (how sweet it has been!) I'm able to see that these seasons in our kid's lives really are short. The hard seasons really do come to an end. And what we make of those difficult seasons really is up to us and no one else, and how we come through those times speaks VOLUMES about our character as human beings, as mothers and fathers.
I am not entirely proud of how I managed the difficult season of Ezra's first years of life... Feeling like I was owed something for all the sacrifices I'd had to make... looking for compensation and remuneration for every effort I put forth... never wholly embracing who Ezra was because I was so focused on some imaginary finish line that I'd drawn in my head...
Yet, I am proud of the mother I'm becoming through it all. I'm proud of the fact that I can look back and recognize things I'd like to change and do differently. I'm proud of the fact that I am healthy enough to enjoy the gift of my son- no longer hoping for some future season with him, but kicking off my shoes and planting my happy butt right where it's at. And I'm thrilled to know that, for this next baby boy, I've learned a thing or two about cherishing every baby step... a critical lesson that I never would have grasped without the help of his precious big brother.