(I generally hate "mom" as a prefix, but this is one instance I can get behind.)
Yesterday I was looking for a particular old photo. And as always happens, because I'm not terribly organized in the digital photography department, I ended up looking through hundreds (thousands?) of photos.
I kept staring at photos of itty-bitty Westley, vaguely confused, awash in feelings of "I don't remember that." I remember specific instances, like standing on tip-toe on the edge of the bed to photograph Westley, Rob, and the kitty napping together.
I remember picking out the camo-skull swaddling blanket that's bunched up below Westley's feet, here. I was hugely pregnant, fairly certain that the little life inside of me was a boy, and desperate for something not blue-with-trucks.
(I later gifted that swaddling blanket to a favorite Starbucks barista and his infant son, Zephyr Westley.)
What I don't remember is the day-t0-day. What on earth did I do every day with that little guy? I don't really remember how it felt to hold him or bathe him or change his diaper. I don't remember doing his teeny-tiny laundry. And I want so much to remember.
If I sit very still and quiet, asking myself to go back and be in that time again for just a moment, I crash into a wall of sadness. I don't see Westley; I see myself. I remember how isolated I felt, how overwhelmed and unsupported. I remember the tightness in my chest every day as I anxiously wondered, "What am I going to do?" About the day, about Westley, about my life...
And then I look at the photos, and my heart breaks. I had such a beautiful, healthy, happy baby. But I was too miserable to enjoy him...or even remember him.
It's hard to acknowledge that until about a year ago - maybe closer to a year and a half at this point - I was terribly depressed. And while I think I remember the pain I was in - just as I think I remember the pain of labor - I don't and can't remember it fully. To do so would be paralyzing.
Fortunately, things are getting better all the time. Slowly, steadily, I'm winning the race. (I think.) And there are things I do remember, maybe not about Westley's babyhood, but about his third year. Good things I can hang on to when that wall of sadness starts to build itself up.
I don't know why the temptation to dwell on Past Me is so strong, or why I still find myself mourning What Could Have Been. If only I hadn't been so depressed when Westley was a baby... But I can't fix that. I can only fix now. And right now, things are actually pretty good!
I'm going to try to remember that.