All My Pictures of You

hadley preschool
My daughter, the one pictured here with me circa 2004, texted this photo to me last evening.

She'd been rummaging through old photos looking for one of a friend from their preschool days so she could post it on Instagram for her friend's birthday (as is the tradition for middle school kids on social media these days.)

She'd come across other forgotten photos, the ones we snap and keep, but don't quite make the cut for frames and display, and so we tuck them away, forget about them and accidentally fail to cherish them. These pictures from regular days, the insignificant ones, the ones where we don't put on a special outfit or go to a picturesque location and look as combed and shiny as we are able so we can look back and reminisce about just how picture-perfect we were in that moment.

But those picture-perfect photos, while lovely and worth every Photoshopped penny, sometimes fail to capture the essence of a certain period in our lives. We have pictures of this child from this exact time, but it's funny ... none of them make my heart drop into my socks quite like this one did.

Maybe it's because if you'd told the mom in this picture, the one with her hands over her daughter's heart, that this same child would one day communicate via text with the proficiency of court clerk in a typing competition, I don't think she (I) would have been able to fully wrap her (my) brain around the concept. (Side note: I wish someone would have mentioned I was several weeks overdue for an appointment to color my roots. That I could have wrapped my brain around.)

Maybe it's because this imperfect picture -- her hair askew and bowless, her outfit not monogrammed or smocked (prerequisites for picture days in preschool years), the frame not centered and the image a little out of focus -- so captures her cheerful enthusiasm, her sweetness and affection, and just a tiny trace of mischief shining out of those big, brown eyes. I swear when I look at this picture I can smell her three-year-old scent ... that sweet mixture of baby shampoo, and crayons, and apple juice and lip balm.

This random little snapshot whisked me back to the days when a Polly Pocket shoe "jumped out of her pocket and into her nose," thereby requiring and emergency visit to the ENT to extract said shoe out of her nasal apparatus. To the mornings when she'd crawl into my bed before dawn and squeal "Mommy, is today the day I go to ballet? I LOVE BALLET!" and she'd shiver with excitement at the prospect. The days when she'd offer little bon mots like "You should never, ever back-talk Mommy or Daddy. Only use front-talk with them!"

But I think the real reason my heart was on the floor was I was hit with the realization that it really does go so fast. So, so fast. But I should be clear ... none of this makes me sad. I loved those preschool days. But I love today's days too. I love that they bathe and dress and feed themselves. That if hair is askew it's their problem, not mine. That we enjoy the same music, the same movies and the same clothes (which often leads to me not being able to find a pair of my shoes because someone is wearing them at a nearby middle school, but that's a different blog post.)

I love having conversations of note with my nearly-grown daughters, even the tough conversations. Maybe especially the tough ones. The ones about becoming and embracing the sort of person you aim to be. How short-term discomfort leads to long-term happiness. That you aren't necessarily meant to have everything you want, the way you want it, right now, all the time. That in the end, it all works out. It really does.

I hereby resolve to take more random pictures of regular days. And also a few of my favorite boots. I have a feeling it's the only way I'll be seeing them in the winter days to come.



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