Thursday, January 23, 2014

Old Photos

Yesterday my dad sent me some pictures of Jacob from when he was about the same age Carter is now.  I always love to see pictures I haven't seen before, or in a while, or that I forgot existed.  Sometimes I feel like photos are little puzzle pieces that make up our lives.  So much of my childhood is tied up in the photo albums at my parents' house.  In fact, I often make mental notes about things I want to look up the next time I go there.  Most recently it was when I got my first bike for Christmas (four years old), and before that I was wondering about different Halloween costumes.  I remember a lot of things about my childhood (more than the average person, I'd guess), but for the mundane details, those photo albums are key.  In some cases I do the same thing with my own photos to pinpoint timing and things like that.

I, too, had recently been looking at pictures of Jacob from when he was around 11 months.  From what I see, Jacob looked older than Carter.  Jacob seemed to have more hair by this point (Carter's is getting long on the back and sides but is still fine and short up top), but Carter has more teeth (he has 7-1/2 right now, and I think Jacob was lucky if he had four).  Maybe it's just perspective, maybe it's Carter's chubby cheeks...I have no idea, but Jacob just looks older.  Heck, just looking at the pictures I feel like Jacob was so much more "accomplished" (for lack of a better word) at that point, even though I know for a fact that Carter has been crawling longer.  It's so weird.  For reference, here's Jacob right around 11 months...

And now Carter...

More and more I don't think they look anything alike!  I see facial features that can look similar, but as a whole, they're very different.  In more ways than one!
Anyway, now that we've had that fun...the serious stuff.  I'll admit that I have a bit of a hard time looking at old pictures of Jacob now.  I mean, I love them and treasure each one...but sometimes it's hard for me to reconcile the fact that the sweet baby that I adored so much is now so frustrating and professes his dislike for me on a daily basis.  I thought that might be the case when he was 15, not when he's five. 
I think that old pictures are great for two reasons: 1) Recalling good memories; 2) Realizing how far you've come.  Recalling good memories still applies, but looking at how far we've the first place, that's a little hard when you have that disconnect between who Jacob was then and who he is now.  On top of that, the beauty of seeing how far you've come is that it inspires hope for the future.  You've seen your child grow and change so much, and it makes you excited for all there is to come.  But when the future is such a question mark, that anticipation just isn't there.  At least, not in the same way.
Not that this is something I dwell on, but I've definitely thought about parents who have lost kids and wondered how they feel about pictures of their kids.  Do they savor and seek out every one to absorb every single moment involving their kids that they can?  Or does it hurt too much to look at those pictures knowing that they're a complete set and there's no potential for more?  In most cases it's probably a mix depending on the moment. 
I know our situation is very different because Jacob is alive and well, but he's definitely a different kid than he was, particularly when we're looking at the age Carter is now.  At that point there was no hint we'd be in the situation we're in now.  While I like to think Carter's personality is very different, I can't say for sure.  It breaks my heart even thinking that we could be in this same situation with him someday.  And when I look into the face of my baby Jacob, it breaks my heart even more to think about the anger and frustration I've felt when dealing with him in these past six months.  I could never feel that way about that baby, so why do I feel that way about the big kid version?  Well, the constant beatings and rude, hurtful backtalk probably have something to do with it, but I just don't know how we got here from there. 
I love those pictures, but there's a little bit of sadness hanging on each one knowing that the smile we were so happy to capture just isn't the same anymore.  Oh, how I wish we could find that kid again.

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