Wednesday, December 23, 2009

changing pictures, passing time

One of the hardest things in the world for me to do is change out my children’s pictures. You know what I mean? When you receive the new photos which undeniably reveal they’ve grown another foot, or moved from one stage into another, you can no longer pretend time isn’t passing. Our children – and especially their annual pictures – present us with regular reminders that life is moving in one direction … and it isn’t backwards.

We’re getting ready today to leave for a Christmas trip to visit my family in St. Louis. There’s laundry, packing and a million things to prepare. The cat sleeping in my lap doesn’t know he’s about to be left behind again. Among the many things we’re bringing with us are photos of our daughters. So it seemed as good a time as any to change out some very old 8x10 pictures of the girls – dating back from when they were still in grade school – which have sat atop our living room wall unit all these years. My sister constantly teases me for leaving up old pictures of the kids. Good mother that she is, she faithfully and promptly trades out the new for old pictures of her children every year. She’s even one of those super moms who does scrapbooking and has books from present all the way back to when her oldest was born!

Not me. I started out with the best intentions, but Air Force moves, health problems, homeschooling and probably (mostly!) my own distracted, lazy personality redirected my efforts down other avenues. Or maybe it’s just that I can take the pictures of my girls but then I can’t bring myself to look at them again later. Even the ones hanging on my walls are just there. It isn’t often I really look at them.

Maybe that’s why I procrastinate updating old pictures – I don’t like to be reminded that my babies are growing up.

Today, however, it was different.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a single person’s home. And this wasn’t just a nice place, it was a really, really nice house. It was in fact lovely: gorgeously decorated, everything new and in pristine order, like a house out of magazine. Every room was a work of art; overall, an exquisite creation of beauty and perfection, a joy to behold.

I felt sad when I left there. When I thought about my own house, I confess to more than a twinge of envy.

Well for one thing, ours is a home and it’s very lived-in. The other night my husband was working hard to get bright pink (fuchsia!) nail polish out of the living room carpet. Our daughters know they are supposed to paint their toes in the bathroom but . . . well, when you live with teenagers, you cohabit with chaos. Does that tell you anything for starters?

Moving on... most of our carpets are at least sixteen years old and they look it. The furniture is that old too, or older. Books spill off the bookshelves and there are baskets of craft projects all over the house; the girls and I love to crochet, weave, bead, draw, etc. Right now my daughter’s miniature origami nativity sets line the kitchen counter. Folded clothes cover table tops and the ironing board is set up in the living room in front of the Christmas tree. My husband and I are giving each other a new hot water heater this year for Christmas . . . and considering ourselves very blessed to be able to afford to do so. It’s certainly a lived-in home. We have many happy memories shared under the roof of this messy, old, lived-in home.

As I mentioned above, I didn’t mind so much changing out the girls’ pictures today. Yes, they are older and so am I. Yes, our home is shabbier and so am I. But I wouldn’t trade my well-worn home or self or my life with Bear and our daughters for the plushest mansion anywhere.

The girls' new pictures look very nice by the way.

From our not-so-fancy home to yours, have a very Blessed Christmas and New Year!

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