Every year when it is school picture time, I get the year’s new photo, take my first look at it, of course remark how absolutely gorgeous my children are and then proceed to put it in the frame above the fireplace. The thing is each child’s picture frame has in it all the yearly pictures we have taken of them since they were about two years old. Meaning Elizabeth who is 17 has 12 photos in her frame, her younger brother has seven and her older sister has topped out at 15 as she has graduated. We like to do this thing we call “Taking a walk down memory lane” each time we change the photo. To do this, we open the frame and set out each photo on the floor in chronologic order. We then look at each one to see how the person has grown and changed, once done we put them all away, display the new one and put it back on the wall.
Usually,as we are looking at the photos, there are alot of “Awws” and “Oooh”s and “Remember whens” I can usually join in those choruses when I am looking at my first born and my third child but I have usually have a hard time when it is Elizabeth’s turn. I can find myself mentally going back in time to the day each of her photos were taken and knowing just what she was like that day, what things we were trying to get her to do then, who was her therapist then, was it a good time of her life or was she scared or sad.
I usually would find this “walk down memory lane” to feel a bit TOO much memories, a bit TOO many feelings. I would WANT to feel the warm fuzzies and have that feeling that you wish you could have them that young again. and trust me Elizabeth was a absolute beauty of a baby and child, she looked extremely huggable, kissable and loveable. But those photos, those pictures that captured that one moment in time, could not be made to tell the truth about the baby and child. How the tears and fears, how the crying and meltdowns, how the screams and hiding, were the actual parts of our little child.
I know that every time I would try to ease myself down memory lane, I would want my mind to shut off, simply see my daughter in the photo and not think about how scared I was during those times of her life.
Scared because in some photos, I knew the Elizabeth in them had not been diagnosed. “What did she have?” Scared because we never really knew that what we were doing was the right thing…was there something else we should try?
“Hey, look how cute she is in this one” says Emily, I think “Yes, but I can remember the meltdown she had after leaving the photographer”
“Mom, look at her hair in this one” I think, “Yes, she is cute but I can remember her screaming at the hair salon until we almost had to leave”
I have come to realize that those markers of time, will probably forever hold those associations to me, maybe to all of us with special needs children. How can they not?
Maybe those are simply that markers of time, helping us to see where we were and helping us to see how far we have come. Maybe I can use them as simply that …Markers of time. Maybe it is okay NOT to have those uplifting memories related to photos because my happy thoughts and memories were for those moments NOT captured by a picture. My happy thoughts were that she used a fork!, she colored! She did NOT cry when we entered church…..I start there and could go on for ten blogs worth of things that I say “AWW” or “OOH” to. They are snap shots that are in my memory, in my head….I probably can’t reproduce them for others to view. But I CAN use them to help me when I feel a bit down or overwhelmed.
I offer these thoughts out today because of a comment made by a follower of my blog. Thank you to you, follower, for being honest in saying that you have not gotten to the point in your world with your child where you have forgotten how tough things are…yet.
Please know that even though things with Elizabeth are so completely different from when she was young, that even though she has come so far….I still remember it all. I have not forgotten the feelings.
Maybe “remember when” when it comes to Elizabeth won’t ever be a the thing it is for my other two children. But maybe if we use those snap shots we all have in our hearts and mind, we can off set some of the wash of feelings that come. Perhaps our own mental “walk down memory lane” is what we need, not only when we are faced with memories but on regular days to fortify ourselves and bring a smile to our hearts. One that I know I need and those who have these special children in their lives need.
Wishing everyone a peaceful week.