Since becoming a mother, I have desperately wanted to keep a record. For years I intended to start keeping a journal. It hasn’t happened yet. I hoped to put together those “easy-to-make” photo books to chronicle these precious times with young children. Yet 16,433 photos sit on my computer waiting to be organized and appreciated.
Between snuggling babies and soaking up life, I can’t seem to find the time.
We were together, I forget the rest. -Walt Whitman
Maybe the lack of time isn’t truly my problem, perhaps it’s motivation. My motivation to keep records of these busy and beautiful years is fear.
I fear that without a record I won’t be able to taste every drop of sweetness and joy that have filled up my cup since becoming a mother.
If I don’t write it down or take a photo–how will I remember? Will these years disappear forever? Will I forget the softness of my baby’s cheek? Will I forget how it feels to have a tiny head sleeping on my chest?
I ponder if I should sleep with one eye open so I don’t miss a thing.
On one night in particular, I was attempting this “one-eye-open” type of sleep. It was the eve of my son’s third birthday. I was restless, crying and lamenting about the fact that he would be leaving for college in (a mere) 15 years. Therefore, around 11:30pm I decided to start a long-overdue written journal.
Now is as good of a time as ever, right?
This journal I have been planning and pining for…it was going to help me go back and reminisce about every detail of the past. This journal would help me to relive these special days in all their glory. I wanted to document every memory that I could.
So I jumped on to the Evernote App and fiddled around with starting a new virtual notebook to get everything in order.
Finally, my journal was ready. I started to type. I wrote one character (see the actual image below).
Then I heard a voice at the end of my bed. “Mama, can you come hold me?”
This request might be typical for some kids, but this newly 3-year-old boy had never before come into my bedroom at night. However for some reason, on this particular night, at this particular moment, he wandered in and asked me to hold him.
I put down my phone and took him back to his room and held him. I told him the story of how I first met him and then he fell asleep on my chest just as he did in the hospital exactly 3 years earlier.
Therefore, my journal was an epic failure. I wrote one character before throwing in the towel.
Somewhere in between snuggling my babies and soaking up life I realized I don’t need all those carefully kept stories.
I decided my time and energy are not well spent dwelling in the past or being anxious of the future. My time is best spent being fully present today.
This means the memories of my children’s lives will continue to be mostly undocumented and disorganized.
And that’s okay. Because I am here, today, fully present with my family. Each one of those undocumented memories are drops into my overflowing cup. As my children grow and continue to enrich my life, they will keep adding to my cup.
My cup will stay full regardless of my children’s ages, but I won’t be able to parse out those drops. Part of me is nostalgic because once those drops of memories are added into my cup, they will start to blend and fade into one another. I will never be able to truly taste and feel each one ever again.
But do you know what a cup full of motherhood tastes like?
Pure love and gratitude. As the cup continues to fill, it becomes something greater than those individual memories.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The memories add up together to form the relationship we have with one another. The relationship is going to carry and guide me through the rest of my life, not the individual memories.
I won’t remember it all, photograph it all, or write it all down.
Because in the end, it’s not about the details. “We were together, I forget the rest.”
I’ll drink to that.