I've spent most of the last five years looking at pictures of Jacob and marveling at how he's grown and changed. Even though the changes have been very subtle as they've happened, the end result is not. It is quite clear how fast he's growing and how much he's changed. The fact that we have this full-blown little boy who's starting Kindergarten in less than a month is nothing short of mind-blowing. And having gone through this experience with one kid, I think it has taught me to be extra aware of it this time around. So while I may have realized how fast Jacob was growing, I don't think I truly understood how crazy the changes become the older they get.
The changes from year to year can be subtle. The first year of a baby's life might be the exception to that, since the changes are quite obvious, but beyond that it's sometimes hard to tell when and how things changed. You can tell something is different, but as you look through a year's worth of photos, you can't tell when, exactly, the changes happened. Even in Carter's monthly shots, I can tell there are differences, but it's hard to pinpoint what they actually are. Is his face fuller? Does he have more hair? Is he just bigger? More aware? More smiley? So even though you know they're changing every day, it's impossible to see it until you look back at old pictures and realize how far things have come...even if you can't quite tell what those "things" actually are.
There are moments where there is a major disconnect between the kid in the tiny baby picture and the kid sitting in front of me. I know it's the same kid, but it's so hard to believe. It doesn't matter if it's Jacob or Carter...I am equally befuddled with each. Even Carter's looks have already changed so much, and each new bit of personality makes those early days nothing but a hazy memory. I almost can't remember him before that smile became our norm and all of his body hair finally disappeared. I mean, I do, but it's so hard to picture how tiny he really was when he's such a big boy now. And yet, he's so tiny compared to the real big boy in the next room, so it's a vivid reminder that this is just the beginning!
I've decided there's a definite disconnect between newborn-hood and where we are now in the sweet spot (happy but immobile, not yet into the tough stuff like solid food or discipline). There is a haze that descends over you when you have a baby, and it only lifts months down the road. Perhaps it's sleep deprivation, and I think that's part of it, but I also think that throwing all of your energy into the care of a baby gives you some sort of tunnel vision where you can only focus on what's immediately in front of you. So much of the context fades away and the details become fuzzy because you have to focus so much on what needs to happen right now. The past, which was already so limited from this "tunnel vision", becomes even foggier as you focus on each new present. I felt like I was fighting the haze pretty good this time, but no...that newborn phase seems so far away now and I can barely process how far we've come.
A week or so ago I looked at his newborn clothes. They're so tiny! He's rapidly approaching three times the weight he was when we brought him home (still a little bit to go, but we're far past double his birth weight!). He's mostly out of 3-6 month clothes now, although his waist is so tiny that most pants still fit him in the waist. His chicken legs have been replaced by strong, meaty thighs, and the non-existent, skin-on-bone butt that I literally laughed out loud at during his first diaper change is now the cutest little squishy tushy. His face is full and everyone says how chubby he is...but in reality, it's just his face and the rest of him is very long and skinny. Long story short, I know how much bigger he is...it's obvious. But when I look back at tiny baby pictures, I can barely wrap my head around how tiny he was and how much he's changed in these almost six months.
Jacob is a whole other story, obviously. His baby pictures barely seem possible. I can hardly believe that baby and the little boy we know, love, and scream at now is the same human being. His behavior is disappointing, obviously, and knowing that I may someday face the same issue with the sweet, happy baby I cuddle these days just breaks my heart. As it would have broken my heart to know that future five years ago. All through the years, though, I see so many sweet faces. And I know that we had plenty of non-sweet faced moments at the time those shots were taken, so it's not like it was some magical, utopian time, but sometimes it's nice to pretend it was. At least I could get pictures of him smiling and being sweet. Nowadays that's a serious challenge. And here I thought it would get easier to do as he got older. I may be able to get a smile for a posed picture, but more likely I'll get a grumpy face, especially if he knows I'm floating around with the camera waiting for a good candid shot.
I don't know if I've really communicated effectively what my brain marvels at every day, but for some visual support, check out these pictures...
|Carter wasn't even 18 hours old here. Even here I can barely picture how impossibly tiny he was. But oh, those long fingers and funny frog legs!|
And now fast-forward almost six months...
I just can't get over the changes in six months, and can't believe in six more months I'll have another birthday cake to stress over! ;-) But I love this phase right now so I'm pretty content to just sort of hang out here for a while!