And yet.

I don’t know what to say about this.

Maybe that finding these old photos has been a gift? A bittersweet memory?

My dear aunt gave me these photos last year- or maybe even the year before last? And I forgot about them. I put them in a file to go through ‘sometime’. And when I went looking for something else this morning, I found these.

A sad, and sweet and poignant surprise.

I don’t know why the emotions felt are sadness and a hint of longing. I wouldn’t go back. I don’t think. Time softens situations, and makes things look rosier in retrospect. I know that. But somehow the idea of those days is so appealing. And yet. I know it wasn’t always easy when they were this age. But I miss it somehow. I know that things were busy and a little scary, and sometimes difficult. I wouldn’t go back. Mostly because a little while after looking at these photos from my aunt, I suddenly remembered the reason for our kids being in the care of my aunt and uncle so often that year. How they were frequently sent to grandparents and sisters and friends. I remember why. And having Paul be so sick in the hospital that year isn’t something I ever want to repeat. I don’t want to go back, but I do want to remember. I loved that age. Joel was just starting to grow up, and I thought he was so much older than he really was. He was just a little guy, really– so full of questions and burgeoning vocabulary, still a look of the toddler about him. He was teaching me so much. I was young, but I had no idea then how young I really was. Inexperienced. I did know that he was teaching me all about who I was. I remember his hands, kind of chubby on the back, dimpled knuckles deepening as he’d hold my hand. And right now, all I can think is that I can’t remember the last time he reached for my hand. I don’t know how that happened. When that happened. I remember him fishing with Paul and coming home bursting with the news, so excited, his consonants a jumbled mess of boyhood. I remember his blond, blond summer hair, his constant monologue as he played outside alone. I remember two little twins who filled our days and our heart. It was busy, but they were good little twerps. Terribly adorable, and all I felt was that I was the luckiest woman in the world to have them. People would say my hands were full when I went grocery shopping, pushing one cart with them in it, and pulling my groceries in another, Joel at my side holding the list. And I would just smile at their comment and think, “Better full than empty.” I remember how tiny they were, and how dependent. How Connor had a set of lungs on him from the first day, how he cared for Nora like she was his responsibility. I remember Nora’s apple cheeks, her little kitten-cry when she’d wake from her nap. I remember how she stuck up for Connor, cried harder than he did when he was scolded, and called him ‘Bobber’ all. day. long. Okay, she still sobs when he gets in trouble, but I don’t know when the ‘Bobber’ thing stopped- didn’t know at the time that it would be something I would miss. I wish we had never corrected her to the correct pronunciation. I want to hear it again. I remember the sound of crib legs banging through the ceiling while I was in the kitchen, the twins jumping up and down instead of sleeping. I remember frequent walks with Dee, pushing the beefy double stroller up the hill, knowing those walks kept me sane. I remember being weary and happy, always finding the twins together, making a mess and having a lot of fun in the process. How if we realized it was quiet, we knew we’d find something messy with a set of twins in the middle of it. We were tired, I know, but I also know we were filled to the brim. With the busy happiness of daily life. There was a certain naivete through those years. I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t. But if I could just squeeze those chubby Connor little boy cheeks one more time, ruffle his soft hair again. If I could go back and truly see Joel for the small boy he was just once, hold his small dimpled hand, and squish Nora’s freckled button nose once more, I would. I would hug her little frame and hold on much, much longer. I wish I had known then what I know now.

What I know now is that I’m going to look back on our present and feel nostalgic for it a few years from now. What I know is that it’s so important to absorb the here, the day to day. The little things, the living of life. The feeling of emotion and time rushing, and life moving fast and feeling unable to control or absorb or even recognize where we are, and how soon it will be when we’re not here again.

Maybe my words aren’t making sense. They’re not saying what I want to say, what I feel inside.

I’ll stop.

Except to say this:

I have a feeling I’ll never regret taking so many photos.

And I’m going to squeeze my kids a little tighter when they bound off the bus this afternoon.

And I still feel like the luckiest woman in the world.

That’s what I know. Right now.

February 17, 2011 - 2:51 pm

colleen - Oh my honies! I just love these pictures. You need a special book for these!!

February 17, 2011 - 3:03 pm

Dee - This brings back alot of memories. Now I think we need to start taking walks again for my sanity! Kind of reverse roles. :)

February 17, 2011 - 3:27 pm

Hanna - Thanks so much for this post – I am expecting twins this summer and have a 4 year old. And while I’m sure the next few years will be hectic this reminds me to embrace it all and enjoy them while they are still little.

February 17, 2011 - 3:40 pm

Betsy - @ Dee: I had that same thought- how we have switched places. :) Let’s get walkin’, girlie!

@ Hanna: Thanks for visiting! You’re on the way to a wonderful, wonderful journey. Our older son was 3 1/2 when our twins were born. It was a perfect age gap. I wish you the very best! Feel free to keep in touch!

February 17, 2011 - 9:05 pm

Bethany - I know in just a short couple of years I will be looking back on today saying the same thing. Thinking about holding Gavins little hand while we walked down our drive way, mud and all! Counting the steps 1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9..10, over and over again in his little voice. Coming inside to make a big bowl of yummy rice crispie treats that most of them didnt even make in into the pan before he snuck a handfull and shoved it in his mouth while giggles escaped:) Hes so little yet I treat him so big because he is the big brother to a very quick, happy, chubby little brother who at 8 months can almost catch him! Im loving every moment if this day and cant wait to see what memories will come with tomorrow.

February 18, 2011 - 11:57 am

Sheila - You expressed my thoughts exactly. Although my kids will all be teenagers in another couple of months, I still get melancholy when looking at old photos….those were sweet and memorable times ( and sometimes I wish I could have them back, just for a day!)

February 18, 2011 - 3:47 pm

Kara - These are precious. I love their little bellies sticking out!

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