I took this picture of myself with my baby girl at naptime the other day. I seem to take a lot of pics at naptime. But this time instead of smiling into the camera like usual and sending it on to my husband with a quippy something, I decided to look at my girl, breathe her in, and snap the pic.
I stared for a while at the picture before cropping for Instagram, turning it black and white to ”soften it”.
The above is the untouched photo. I looked at it a long time before sharing it with the world. Here I am. With my baby. Snuggling her. I was taking her in. I was trying to hold the moment. I had to get up, get 6 people and myself ready for a hair appointment. I knew once I got up the 3 year old sleeping on my other side would awaken too with many demands. The baby would no longer be asleep and would be very cry-y that I had to set her somewhere to do the things of life. I had to get busy, the clock told me so. But for this moment, I stayed. I smelled her, I felt her little hands on my chin for just a while longer. I looked at how smooth her skin is, the pinkish perfectness of it. It was mostly quiet around me, I could the hear the older children playing in the other rooms. It was a beautiful sunny day. The morning had not gone well. I had put us to bed frustrated and overwhelmed. Again. But this starting over moment was what I needed. It was a reminder that all things will be made new.
I looked at the picture and thought about her lovely plumpness, her newness, her smoothness. And my gaze moved over to study me. I’m not wearing makeup, my hair needs a washing before I rush out to get a new style, I’m not wearing my glasses that give me so much of my identity. I looked closer and saw my spots. I don’t even know what they are, but they used to not be there, I used to more closely resemble the other girl in this picture. They’re telling my age. As are those beginnings of wrinkles on my forehead. I’ve noticed lately my skin is thinner. Ironic, since my figurative skin is finally getting thicker. The markings of age. Of wisdom? Of beauty?
This time in life is different for me. I have so many friends who had their children at a younger age and whose children are growing older. They are well past the diaper phase, the baby smell, the napping with little ones. It makes me more aware of my aging beside such a new person especially with the contrast of my friends who are moving on into different chapters.
Thinking of that passage of time, the contrast to the life I’m still living with a newborn in the house I find myself thinking about older children, my age, the way I look. I know a lot of women who fight the process of age. I know they want to embrace, cling to, never let go of the image of the girl on the left. But that’s not the way of the world. Time slips by, it changes us, and if we slip with it it’s not such a rough ride. Yes, I’m still young at 36, but the me I’ve always known is changing. It’s subtle. But I see it. And I’m learning to smile. Because God did not just make beauty for the babies, for the young. He made it for us too if we stop and look and accept.