Some friends and I are hosting a baby shower for another friend this weekend, and while we all cringe at the idea of shower games, we did agree that the baby picture game would be fun. basically, everyone brings a photo of themselves as a baby, and they are tacked up without names. The object is to guess who is who based on squishy cheeks and tuffs of hair, but really, I just love the idea that all of these people I know – smart, funny, passionate, adult people – were babies. They were born, they wanted to be held, they wore ridiculous outfits. They were rocked to sleep, and they fell down a lot before they stood upright. It’s easier to be patient with my friends when I remember that they started out so small. That sounds mocking, but it’s not. There is something awe inspiring that we all survived that mewing cat stage of life, and seeing photos of the people you cherish as children is a keen reminder that we are all growing and learning – nothing is static.
And besides, the game gives me an opportunity to pull out photo boxes and look at myself as a baby, and come on, you know you love doing that. Or, maybe I’m just extra narcissistic. Either way, I sat on the floor of my craft room tonight, flipping through my baby book, showing every other picture to Tom (and bestowing important information, such as: “We had this couch until I was 7. It was the scratchiest tweed on earth”) and came across a photo I love:
The date on the back is June 1983, so I was a month old or so.
I don’t know if I can explain why this photo moves me the way it does. Maybe it’s an experience you have to have to understand, but for me, nursing my girls has been one of the simplest, most honest forms of love that I have ever felt. Even in those hard months after Alice’s birth, when I just wanted to disappear, I could still find moments of peace, laying with her, feeling the earth spin around us, a perfect pair. Ella nursed until she was nearly two, and those mornings when we would sit together, her legs straddling my enormous belly, her humming while she nursed (a funny habit that she had, which we called ‘An ode to Boob’) – those are the moments I draw on when I wonder where this sassy little girl came from. I remember her nursing, eyes shut, happiest there in my arms.
My mother thought that this moment was beautiful enough to capture, and slip into my baby book. Seeing this photo, I suddenly realize that I was a baby once, and my mother looked down on me with that same love that I feel when I look down at my girls nursing.
And it’s so much easier to be patient with myself when I remember this.
ps – This is the photo I am using for the guessing game. That’s the scratchy couch in the background.