I feel like I've spent a lot of the last 9 years of my life trying to remember things.
Return those library books, don't forget to get a gallon of milk on the way home, so-and-so's birthday is tomorrow, send a follow up email about such-and-such, don't forget to ask so-and-so about that thing, take the trash to the curb, take a meal to this family, etc, etc.
But then there are the important things. Don't forget the way Elizabeth said the word "juice" the first 5 years of her life. Don't forget the way Lucas and Ashlee liked to trade plates when they were still chubby-faced toddlers. Or the way Ashlee hid food under her leg and would eat it all at the end of her meal. Or the way Olivia would dance to any beat from the age of 6 months on. Or the way Aaron held his pacci in the side of his mouth like a cigar when he was learning to crawl. Or how an 18 month old Ella could be pitching an epic fit one minute and belly laughing the next.
That's the thing when you add 1 or 2 babies every two or so years, you tend to be caught up in the busyness of the day to day and you forget a lot of things. Luke says the first six months of the twins' life is a complete blur to him. I say the first three months. I remember getting up one morning a few days after the twins were born. I walked into the living room and my Mom had swaddled two of Elizabeth's babies up. She was pretending to nurse them, sitting there in just her underwear. All of the sudden she seemed SO BIG. And I just started crying.
I'll never forget this though, the twins were tiny, less than a couple months old. I was getting Elizabeth ready for bed and I stripped off her shirt, pants and undies. The stench that came from her small, 2 year old body was enough to make me recoil. I looked at Luke, shocked, and asked, "When was the last time we bathed Elizabeth?" We both thought for several minutes and we could not remember. I'm sure it had been over a week.
I've always taken a lot of pictures. I guess somewhere subconsciously I knew that those pictures would be the lifeline to my memories. But with the purchase of our smartphones and the conception of my photography business, using a real camera on my own kids is something that's sort of slipped onto the back burner.
So yesterday, when Abigail was upstairs "helping" me make lunch while the other kids were happily entertained with the electronic babysitter, I could have gotten swept up in the moment of hungry kids, lunch time, my pelvis begging me to sit down, my bladder beseeching me to empty it's contents. Again. But instead, I noticed my sweet 21 month old, in a princess dress that she INSISTED on wearing, standing on top of our shoe bins, eating a banana and completely captivated by a squirrel doing only-a-squirrel-knows-what in our front yard. The light hit her face and I moved as fast as my feet could waddle me to grab the camera. My real camera.
Because THIS is what I don't want to forget.
This girl, a cheek full of banana, pointing at a squirrel, telling me to "come 'ere," giggling when I say, "That's not a puppy!"
Her dimple on that one side. It's becoming less obvious the bigger she gets. I've seriously prayed it will stay forever even though she'll probably hate it as a teenager,
sticky, slimy banana finger prints all over my window sill,
her amazement at how fast that little squirrel ran away when she knocked on the window,
and how I wouldn't let her stand on the microwave, so she would stretch a tulle covered foot over there, then look at me over her shoulder and grin.
And how after she realized the squirrel wasn't coming back, she spent the rest of her time "helping" me make grilled cheeses by licking the butter when I wasn't looking. For me, it's less about not forgetting and more about remembering the little things. Savoring the details, letting go of the things that are suppose to be these big memory makers and just enjoying my kids exactly where they are. Breathing them in and trying my best to simply remember.