Seeing myself in photos from The Captain and I’s early relationship — young, not sleep deprived, before the burdens of postpartum anxiety, depression, and pounds laid their mark on me — feels like I’m looking at a different person. I am a different person.
Having children has been the greatest joy of my life. In nurturing and nourishing and protecting them, though — I’ve had to gradually give pieces of myself away. I know this isn’t the case for all mothers, but for me, I’ve had to enter survival mode and allocate such a large portion of my physical, mental, and emotional resources to the kids, that I have had little for myself. For the last seven years of parenthood, I’ve felt like an extra in the story of my own life. An accessory role, intended only to propel and frame the main characters’ stories. The notion has been tumbling around in my head for a few days now, and I’ve come to another realization.
This life – our life – is still my story, too.
I’m a cornerstone, a mainspring.
I’m not just an expendable part of the periphery.
This project of consolidating everything from the last decade into this blog is an essential part of reminding myself of that. I need to internalize it, and live it. I need to document it.
After I originally made the Mostly Selfies post yesterday, I went through The Captain’s files of photos, and found even more goodies. I’m in a lot more of these, obviously — he took them — seeing myself young and in love through his lens brings back so many memories. We were so immediately, stupidly in love with each other in that first year, and it has grown and evolved and compounded over the last thirteen (!!!) years.
I loved playing the starring role in our story back then. I was more than a little vain, and just starting to grow out of twentysomething selfishness. It was all about us. I didn’t have to remember exactly how one child likes their toast cut, and to make sure the water bottles for their backpacks were filled every night. I didn’t share a bed with a preschooler that frequently kicks me in the back of the head and coughs in my face. I didn’t have to go for days without washing my hair, and I always ate hot meals.
But I wouldn’t go back, not even for a blink.
I’m excited for our kids to see and actually understand what these photos convey, someday. Part of this “catching up” project is as much for them as it is for me.