On school mornings I get up before the kids, turn on the lights and open the window blinds so the house is welcoming and ready for the day. Yesterday morning I opened them onto an eerily Parisian landscape: Monochromatic shades of charcoal gray, fog swirled with luminous streetlight glow and light posts looming at odd angles like the the masts of shipwrecks. If I'd been on vacation I would have been filling my camera's memory with the sight; as it was, I just said, “Huh! Cool.”
How much everyday wonder is slipping by because familiarity has blinded us to its beauty?
I realized the other day that I don't have any pictures of my babies crying. There are birthday cakes and first steps, but no pictures of their pink cheeks and delighted drooly grins when they woke up from their naps. I have photos of Halloween costumes but not of bedtime stories, video of dance recitals but not of someone tying his shoe for the first time.
It is precisely these moments that now I'd give nearly anything to see again.
I can remember the look on Joy's face when she opened her 16th birthday gift even without the picture, but how wonderful it would be to see again Red's look of shock the first time we put cottage cheese in his mouth. There is photographic evidence of the pride in Jack's eyes when he finally figured out the pedals on his bike, but none of the pride I felt when mine was the only touch hospitalized Sassy could bear after her surgery.
So much of parenthood passes in a haze of monotonous sameness that it feels as though this is the way it must always be. We're so anxious to hit the high points with our children – to make sure that graduations and holidays are celebrated in style – that we let those sacred, every day moments pass without comment, almost with relief.
Ah, but . . . the small, sweet weight of a baby's head tucked under your chin; the tiny hand slipped confidingly into yours before you cross a street; the secrets confided to you in a cracking, husky-voiced teenage whisper . . . notice these things, I beg you, along with the Christmas mornings and the choir programs.
Take at mental snapshot, at least. Those are the moments that count.