“A photograph can take you back in time to places and embraces that you thought you’d left behind.” – The Tigger Movie
“Life is too deep for words, so don’t try to describe it, just live it.” – C.S. Lewis
Pictures. Pictures to capture a moment; pictures to freeze time. Pictures that define us and pictures that reveal some truth we may have hidden even from ourselves. Pictures are worth a thousand words, according to the saying. And for someone like me who cannot for the life of me use less words, a picture could very well be the solution to my feelings that sometimes, even thousands of words are not enough to adequately express what’s inside me.
Pictures and videos of my daughter are what got me through the final blind curve of the end of my marriage and got me off my butt and out into the world, finally accepting what was and letting it go so I could be FREE.
So this past week I’ve been thinking. There are days when I just want to crawl into bed and shut my eyes and sleep, no dreams, no baby cries in the middle of the night, no thoughts of sadness or solitude or just plain desperation creeping up on me randomly every once in a while even when things are going well. Because that’s the thing. Everything can be great but still there is doubt in my mind that keeps me awake for a couple of nights at a time every few weeks. Life can be good but still, I’ll lay in my bed frustrated, lonely, wondering if this is all there is to my life. And it takes so much to find it inside myself to get through those moments and push on, to sift through the pain or the exhaustion and see the moments worth getting back up for in the morning.
Some days I feel like all I do is fight, from the moment I wake up until sleep finally overtakes me. I fight for pee and poop in the toilet and brushing teeth. I fight to get every single bite of breakfast in a surprisingly vice-like closed mouth that tests my aim and patience as it is shaken in a defiant no from side to side to side, and then I do it again at lunch and dinner. I fight for no dropping socks or shoes or hair clips or iPhones in the toilet and I fight to keep toilet paper from being ripped into little unusable scraps. I fight to keep tiny but strong hands from pinching or scratching cousins, playmates, and myself and I fight to keep tantrums to a minimum. I fight against throwing food and toys and books and utensils and I fight for sharing and and holding mommy’s hand as we walk.
I fight to keep my room as clean as possible, giving up once it’s a cluttered, but organized mess. And I fight to wash and fold laundry when all my bras are dirty and I have to wear one from college when my chest was still pre-breastfeeding firm and small. I fight against emotional eating and I fight to stick to a running routine. I fight against my insecurities and some days I fight to get out of bed. Because I want to be a good mother and I want to be good to myself, too.
Saying “everything’s okay, I’m fine” all the time is a lie. I am honest about my emotions and I say what I need to say. But somehow I do go on. I do feel happy. I laugh. I relax and I breathe. I make plans and I let my daughter pick her own outfits and I push the toys into a corner and I just let it be. I used to wonder where that strength came from, but now I know that it’s in me. I choose to see the good moments and just live them for however long they last. And that is what gets me through.
When those nights come around when my brain won’t stop and I’m anxious or restless or afraid or depressed, I need something to help me remember the moments worth all that damn fighting. I look back on my first year as a mom and there are so many holes in my memory. I remember, but it’s like I’m trying to remember a dream. I can’t quite access all of it. And that’s because I was so grief-stricken and so shocked that my system went into survival mode and I simply existed. I smiled and played for my daughter’s sake but I was cut off from my life in a way that left me hollow.
I’ve already written about the real turning point in my grief and how I found myself again. Now, more than a year after that event, I’ve got something new planned. I’ve been knocking an idea around my head for the past week. It’s inspired by things like Wordless Wednesday posts and the whole “febphotoaday” thing I’ve been seeing on Twitter. What if I use the iPhone I’ve got to capture moments in my day that inspire me, make me laugh, move me? Beauty is in the smallest details sometimes. Happiness can be found in a mere second in an otherwise hectic day. I fight all day every day sometimes, but there are moments. There is good.
So what I came up with is this. I am going to click away with my cellphone camera whenever the moment is good, whether it’s something I’m doing or my daughter or a pretty sky or whatever. And just that act, remembering to take a picture when I feel happy, will help me appreciate the feeling. Then at the end of the day when I drag myself to bed and feel the tension and tiredness threatening to make it a sleepless night, I can look through those pics and choose the one that makes me happiest and tweet it as my pic of the day. In fact, I want to make that my nightly routine. Instead of catching up on social media sites I’ll catch up on my own life. It’s hard to focus on the good when you’re
fighting parenting, so this will be a way to force myself to see what was right with my day.
So now, instead of one wordy post a week I’m going to post twice. One full of my talk too much self, and one where I simply put up the pics of the day from the whole week, no words, no explanations. If I keep at it, at the end of the year I’ll even have a photo diary of my best memories to look at when my will is not enough to keep me going. We all need help to feel strong and present and excited about our lives. This is my way of helping myself achieve a happier, more peaceful state of being. It’ll make me a better mother, knowing that there are reasons to smile. And it’ll be something to look back on to fill in the holes in my memory as my fights go from eat this, poop there to don’t you dare wear that, smoke that, drink that, or go there. From toddler to teenager, it’ll pass so quickly, but at least now I’ll have a way to help myself get through it…and a way to help myself fight for the smiles and through the tears.