The days are long, but the years are short.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this quote, from Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” – “The days are long, but the years are short.”
When you are in the thick of life with littles, running on just a few hours of interrupted sleep and answering constant demands, there are certainly those days when baby’s bedtime can’t come fast enough. It takes me back to when I had a newborn and a one-year-old. That first year with the second baby, I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I often struggled to appreciate all the beautiful and tender moments. I know they happened, and I remember a few of them, but that year is mostly a haze to me now.
Perhaps my strongest memory from those days is one that is less than idyllic. On a chilly morning, I had bundled up my girls and packed them into a double stroller, even though I was sick with a cold and struggling to stay on my feet from exhaustion. The house was a mess and the one year old, who had given me the cold, was also getting her molars. The baby had kept me up until past midnight the night before, and woken twice to nurse. The toddler had risen bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:30 a.m., despite a 2:00 a.m. wakeup of her own. As I stumbled past the house on the corner, a kind fifty-something neighbor stopped to coo over my beautiful babies and told me to cherish every moment, because the time goes so fast.
Cherish every moment. The time goes so fast. Older women were always telling me that.
I’m sure they say it to you too, if you have little ones. Normally I was able to smile and agree, even when the current moment didn’t feel entirely precious, because I recognized the underlying truth. However that day I was swept with such a powerful and strange mixture of sadness, exasperation and guilt that tears welled in my eyes. I barely made it back to my house before breaking out in the ugly cry.
It’s true. Motherhood is precious, fleeting, beautiful, and wonderful. It’s also exhausting, disgusting, frustrating … it’s everything, and sometimes all in the same moment. And the baby hormones don’t help. I’m sure others before me have said it more eloquently, but if you’re reading this, you probably know exactly what I mean.
Twenty years later, I look back on that day with the perspective of age. I am one of those well meaning older ladies now, telling the young moms how quickly the time goes – and yes, I understand the irony. It’s why my tag line now as a Houston newborn photographer is “Treasure the little things.” Because even that memory to me now is beautiful. But I really wish that I’d taken the time to capture and commemorate more of the good moments. It’s not that I didn’t take photos, I took a ton of them. But I wasn’t a professional photographer back then, and the images I have from that time are mostly snapshots.
That’s what this rambling has to do with photography. I don’t have newborn photos of my daughters.
Back in the early 1990s, newborn photography wasn’t popular the way it is now. I don’t think I even thought about it with my first baby. When my second baby was born, and I knew she’d be my last, I wanted to cherish every moment, and remember all the little details, so I called a photographer, and was told to bring her in at about three months. I did, and I love those photos, but they are very basic and she had already changed so much from the time she was a newborn. Back then I had never even seen the kind of photography I create now. But oh, how I would love to have photos like these of my daughters. I would hold them in my hands, and remember all the little details I struggle to picture now.
I’m a grandma now, and my grandson is 9 months old. I’ve been so blessed to live very close to my daughter and her family. My daughter is experiencing many of those same emotions I remember. He’s a beautiful, healthy baby and we love him to bits. He also had colic, and he’s very active, easily frustrated, and doesn’t nap well. I’m so glad to be here to help her when it gets overwhelming. And I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ve been able to give her the kind of beautiful newborn photos and baby photos of little Levi, that I wish I had of her. Because the days are long, but the years are short.
Here is a link to Gretchen Rubin’s short video about this saying: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KktuoQwb3vQ