I wrote this post last year, in March of 2019. (It was near the top of the “Your Recent Drafts” section of WordPress, which tells you how often I even attempted to blog in the past twelve months.) I’m not sure why I never published it, except that maybe I was lost in the newborn fog, thinking I would wait until I could really “get back to writing” to post it. Well, I’m back to writing, and here it is.
A few weeks ago, we woke to unexpected beauty: overnight, the last in a seemingly-endless series of storms turned cold, leaving a half inch of snow behind as it swirled away and over the pass. The sun was just beginning to peek over the hills. The world outside my door sparkled and shone, freshly white, transformed.
In a previous life, I’d have pulled on my boots, dug out my hat, fumbled for my gloves. I’d have slung my camera around my neck and tromped out into the cold. I’d have stood on tip-toe and bent low – perhaps even dropped to my knees or my belly – to frame my shots, striving to capture the beauty with my lens.
As it was, though, I did none of those things. When Jonathan called to me from the door connecting our bedroom to the deck, inviting me to come and see, my first instinct was to close my eyes more tightly, to roll away from life and light and wakefulness and toward the sweet oblivion of sleep. Mornings have been tough around here, at least for me: Miles, while a good sleeper for his age, is a newborn, which means he sleeps like one – and so do I.
When I finally dragged myself out of bed and squinted out at the brilliance of winter, the woman who had inhabited that previous life woke, just a little. She saw the snow hanging heavy on the trees, the sun glinting off the frost-covered fence, the story in a rusted tricycle under a blanket of white, and she itched to grab the camera.
“It’s temporary,” she whispered. “Fleeting. Get out there. Capture this. Record it, now, while you still can.”
Her voice was squashed by the squall of a newborn, waking and wanting to be nursed, by toddler hands reaching up for a hug, by young voices asking what was on the menu for breakfast. She was drowned out by a swirl of activity and by the pull of responsibility and by the weight of exhaustion.
I didn’t have the time or the energy to answer her call, but I couldn’t ignore her completely. I didn’t even step outside; instead, I opened the door a crack and snaked my hand through the gap. One, two, three jabs with my finger against a smartphone screen and I had a few quick images, imperfectly framed. Snapshots, really. Nothing more.
My hands are full, as I’m often told, and so holding a camera or utilizing a keyboard becomes more of a challenge. This past year, in the midst of everything that goes into growing one small human inside of me while keeping an additional two alive, I haven’t found (haven’t made?) much time for writing or photography.
There are those who would see this as a failure to prioritize myself and my needs, as a choice to lose myself in motherhood. There are those who would recommend being more efficient with my time, planning ahead better so that I might fit more into my days. There are days when I say these things to myself. After all, there are plenty of moms out there who do (or seem to do) so much more with their days than I currently do with mine.
Later that morning, as we sat down to breakfast, Katie looked out onto the snow-covered yard. “Mama,” she said, “look at how sparkly and pretty the ground is. Do you think somebody came and sprinkled glitter all over the yard last night?”
I looked into her upturned face. For a moment, before I explained about snowflakes and ice crystals and reflection, I reveled in her childlike wonder, in this girl of mine who believes in a world where somebody might do something as random and outlandish as sprinkling glitter in our yard. I recorded the moment, holding it in my mind, memorizing the tilt of her head, the glint in her eyes.
This is a season, and, like that snow outside my window, it is fleeting. I’ve been through this newborn phase three times before: I know it won’t last. One day, I’ll sleep through the night again. I’ll get back to writing more consistently, to practicing photography, to devoting time to capturing beauty in creative ways.
For now, though, I’ll find beauty in the ways this season allows. A cell-phone snapshot. A minute of shared wonder. Memories – both good and bad, beautiful and frustrating – scribbled in a notebook. All captured in the brief spaces between changing diapers and kissing bumps and answering questions, between prepping food and settling disputes and washing laundry, so much laundry.
This is a season, and I don’t intend to miss the beauty it has to offer because I’m longing for something else.