Are My Christmas Card Photos a Lie?
I have a confession.
The Christmas cards currently lying on our kitchen table, half addressed and still needing stamps -- while lovely -- are a lie. Okay, maybe they are not completely a lie. They just don't tell the whole story.
Like most holiday cards, ours features a nice little greeting. We are proclaiming a message of "Peace" to the world. But, um, have you been to our house? (Or any house with two small children?) You, too, might see the irony of such a sentiment.
Also, there are images of us all smiling. To be fair, we do that a lot. Smile. And I'm so grateful for those (many) moments.
But there are also lots of tears.
Some happy. Some irrational. (Most of those are from the newly anointed three-year-olds in the house.) And some from frustration. (Cue me slowly raising my hand to claim the majority of those.)
But those are not shown. The tears. They are not a part of our Christmas image this year.
Somehow I don't tend to pick up my camera when I'm in mom meltdown mode, and I could not find an appropriately adorable screaming toddler photo like this one from two years ago...
...which happens to be one of our favorite pictures. Ever. (And I take a lot of pictures.) But I promise you this picture was not as adorable in the moment. In the moment, I was frustrated, stressed, at the end of my ever-shortening rope.
And this moment, forever captured in our hearts, has not been the only moment of frustration and stress and rope shortening. There have been many. Often multiple each day. I fear that too many days have passed me by when I've only heard the screams of another tantrum, the cries of another "owie," and the whining of another pleading toddler. Sometimes the laughter gets lost in the present.
But hindsight... hindsight is everything.
With hindsight, I can look at this picture and laugh. I can see my two beautiful babies. I can hear the laughter above the sound of their tears. I can feel the warmth of the setting Florida sun and the soft sand beneath my toes. I can appreciate the time we had together. I can cherish the moment.
I can give thanks for the memory.
I find that the same is true of much of what I remember of our first three years as a family of four. (Side note: I have mostly blocked out the entire first year of twin survival. This is for our collective sanity. Believe me. Thank goodness I took some pictures.)
Still, when I do pause and reflect back on three years of raising little people, I can and do see the beauty in the journey. I can hear the laughter above the tears.
Why is it so much easier to cherish the memory than to savor present? How is it that the challenges which bring us to tears today can move us to laughter tomorrow?
As we cross the next hurdle (or enter a new jungle) on this month in which our twins turn three, I hope these pictures can bring some perspective. I hope they can help me to have the foresight to more often see the joy in the now.
So maybe our Christmas cards this year are not a lie after all. Maybe it is our whole story. While we may lack "peace" in the moment-to-moment of raising twins, there is most definitely peace in our hearts. And while the pictures don't show the tough moments and the tears, they are nevertheless present in our eyes and our smiles. And I guess, for us, that makes them all the more real.
Looking forward, I know there will continue to be hard days. And tears. And short ropes. But I'm thankful for the snapshots of joy, both then and in the now. They are the images, the memories, I will choose.