I'm one of those people that wants to capture the essence of my children, at every age, so that when I'm older I can look back and reflect on their childhood that I was too busy trying to survive to enjoy as fully as I wanted. There are times that I can sit and drink in the delights of their youthful exuberance, wonder, and simple beauty, but those moments are scattered between laundry, cooking and breaking up fights.
I remember when we were waiting for our newest baby, I brought up the boxes of boys and girls clothes to be sorted and prepared. We didn't know which we were having so I wanted a small collection ready because I knew in the haze of new baby I wouldn't have time to sort things out. Two other times I had brought out that box of newborn girls clothes, and two other times I'd quietly tucked them away. This time, however, I couldn't help myself. I unconsciously unpacked every item, nesting it in the little dresser that had only ever been used by our eldest daughter. As I took out all the little, impossibly small items, I was overwhelmed by the joyful memories I attached to each of them. Her newborn scent, which lingered in my memory like the perfume of my Nonna, a familiar friend long gone, rose up from each memory laden garment I pulled out of the box. I felt so silly, grasping on so tightly to the memories of the baby my big girl used to be. She was my first, the child who made me a mother. She was a dream child, the promise of a vision fulfilled in flesh before my eyes, always growing beyond what I could have imagined.
Today I was poring over baby pictures of our newest baby, our sweet and calm little girl. The day we took her home from the hospital, I had dressed her in one of those little dresses her big sister had worn as a baby. A pretty checkered dress that was a little too big for her, which highlighted her littleness. She was a full pound bigger than her sister had been at birth, but still managed to look tiny and helpless. My heart cried out as her scent mingled with the latent scent her sister had imprinted on the dress. There was a newness and an oldness in that moment. I was no longer a first time mother. I had three other beautiful children I longed to return home to. As I held my newest blessing and miracle close, I was still anxious as I had been with each of my three older children, wanting to do right by this little person entrusted to me.
It's funny how something so simple as a dress can trigger those memories. I guess I can't bottle these moments, but in the end the most important moments are woven carefully into the fabric of our lives, in items and photos scattered as guideposts to remind us where we have been, and how far we've come.