Growing up, being a mom was always a dream of mine. When people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was always “a mommy.” Maybe a marine biologist… and a mommy. Or maybe a teacher… and a mommy. But I hadn’t planned on having children as young as I did. I was still in my last year of college when I became pregnant with my first son. His dad (now my husband) and I were 21 and 22 years old, respectively (I’m the older woman!). At the time, having children didn’t mesh well with our carefree, late-night rendezvous in his parents’ basement. I had plans to finish my English degree and find a job as a writer or an editor. Then I would get married. Buy a house. Have a baby. Become a mom. Maybe when I was 30.
Life doesn’t always work as planned (especially when you don’t use birth control), but I’m so thankful that in this case, it didn’t. My son may not have been in my plans at the time, but being a mother always had been. And because of that–scared though we were–abortion wasn’t an option. Adoption wasn’t an option. Somehow, we would find a way to care for this unexpected baby boy.
Flash forward through a lot of hardships and struggles to getting married to my son’s father, picking out our first house as a family, and making plans for another child. But this time, it didn’t seem like having another child was going to happen as we had planned. It took nearly two years of on-purpose trying to get pregnant before my second son was finally a reality. And although this child was planned and desperately longed and prayed for, finding out that I was pregnant a second time gave me that same, scared feeling that I had the first time.
My story of becoming a mom, twice, leads me to believe that there is no “right time” when it comes to having children. While I do recommend using birth control until you’re “ready” to have children, I am also writing to say that whether it’s a part of your plans or not, becoming a mom is elating, terrifying, and rewarding in ways I could have never imagined. And in the 6 1/2 years of being a mother, I know that the only thing that you really need to make a decision to become a mom, whether the pregnancy was planned or unplanned, is the ability to love.
Although being a mom was always in my plans, I am blessed by both of my children beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. And I wouldn’t trade either of my unique and drastically different experiences of becoming a mom for any other dream I’ve had.
How can we remember a lifetime?
Thus far into my boys’ lives, I have taken several photos of them. Hundreds. Easily 1,000+. I show up with a loaded camera to all of the main events: their birth and subsequent birthdays, Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Easters. I have tried to capture many of their “firsts.” I’ve snapped a photo or two at summer BBQs, family vacations, trips to the zoo, or just about any moment that makes me think, “Oh, that is so cute. I need a picture of that.”
And what do I plan to do with all of those pictures? I put them into scrapbooks for the boys. I want capture as much of their childhood as possible. I have many parts of my own life as a youngster that I don’t remember. And yet I can see my childhood come to life through the pictures that my mom took and lovingly placed and scripted into a photo album. It’s almost like having a memory of it. Maybe better. Photographs from my childhood can trigger a deep sentiment and appreciation for all that my parents did for me as a child. I love going through the various photo albums and reliving pastimes of gardening with my grandma, riding on horseback through the Colorado Rockies with my mom, and admiring the homemade Halloween costumes (Rainbow Brite) and elaborately decorated birthday cakes (My Little Pony) that my dad created from scratch. These are from a part of my life that I can no longer recall, but having those photo albums brings the stories of my childhood to life. I want no less than that for my own children.
That being said, I am wonderful about taking pictures at every opportunity, but I am awful at making the time to print them, put them into an album, and document them. I started a scrapbook for my oldest son when he was a baby:
And here is as far as I’ve gotten:
He was eight months old in these photos. Eight months out of nearly six years is as far as I’ve gotten as far as compiling the photographs into an album for my son.
Where are the other 1,000+ pictures? Well, some are still on my computer’s desktop. Others are still waiting to be uploaded from the memory cards to the computer. And the rest are here:
With baby #2 now here and getting just as many photos beginning to line up behind him, I have my work cut out for me. It ‘s hard to make time to do everything we want to do for our children. However, I love having my life in pictures, thanks to the time my own mother put into the task, and I want my boys to have that as well. Will they appreciate it as much as I do? Maybe. Maybe not. But just in case they will, I’m getting to work.
If for no other reason, I want to be able to flip back through their lives and say “Oh, I remember that! He was always crawling after the dog food, trying to put the pieces in his mouth! He was such a funny baby.” The older they get, the harder it will be to remember the things they did when they were so small.
That’s what photo albums are for.