Fairy Tale Mom
The Unexpected Results of #39

Don’t be fooled by the number, I’m not even close to finishing my 40×40 list. But, as I was working on #39, Sort The Baby Pictures, I had an interesting series of thoughts. I have these boxes of pictures spanning more than my lifetime. Until recently, they were all a jumbled mess. My baby pictures were next to pictures from college that were next to pictures of my recently married Grandparents at their farmhouse. There was no order.

So, I went about sorting my memories from my parents memories and came up with the beginnings of a system. At the end of this process I still had boxes full of pictures, but there are now in categories that define 3 distinct periods of my life. Some of the cast of characters is static throughout. You see lots of pictures of me with the Fairy (we’ve always been close). There are pictures of random zoos that we’ve visited throughout the years. (Important note: all giraffes look the same, make sure  you put people in the pictures for time and place reference.) And there are people whose names I don’t necessarily remember. While the subjects of the photos are sometimes a bit fuzzy to my memory, the feelings I had at the time of each event are quite vivid.

In box 1 we have pictures of my distant past, photos of my childhood (and many things that predate my childhood). You can see the easy contentment of my youth. I was very happy in my sheltered little town. You can see it in the softball pictures to the prom photos. By all appearances, we are a very happy family. As with most things, I didn’t learn until later about how my Mother found it difficult to stay in that small town that I thought was beyond wonderful. But, you can’t see that in the pictures. In the box are smiling faces, family reunions, birthday celebrations and untarnished content.

Box 2 brings us to the years between college and motherhood – some of these should not be seen by children, lest they repeat my mistakes. But, all of them represent genuine joy. I met some of my dearest friends during this period in my life and certainly learned the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. I am still in contact with many of them (beyond facebook even) and others have lost touch. All, however, bring a smile to my face as I remember sharing some of my fondest memories with this group (or these groups) of people. As with most college memories, some are fuzzier than others, but all have the same polish that only time can provide. It all seems so fresh and fun in my head. Long forgotten are the stressful exam weeks, the roommate drama and the long nights working to make ends meet.

Box 3 is very, very full of pictures of the Princess. I have roughly 1,000,000 pictures of her first few months. I have more pictures of this amazing, beautiful girl in her first 4 years than I do of the last 4 combined. (Note to self: buy new camera, I need more recent pictures.) I hope that she has been as happy as she appears to be. When she looks back at these boxes one day I hope her memories are all of the fun she had. I hope, in short, that I’ve not screwed this up too badly. I want her to feel what I feel when I think of the past – few regrets and great joy for the experiences.

#39 led me down memory lane in a way I didn’t think that it would. I expected to very neatly categorize pictures chronologically and move on to my next project. Unexpectedly I ran into my past, in three parts.