The screen goes black before old photos splash on the laptop’s screen. My girls huddle in front of my desk, as if they’re about to watch their favorite TV show.
A chorus of “Oh!” “Look! Look…” and “So cute!” echo from my work corner as they see their baby pictures — a time when they were too young to remember.
“I wish I was 18 already,” my big girl says. “Then I’ll know how to drive then we can always go on dates and I can take us to different places.”
“I wish I was a baby again,” my little girl says. “I miss my chubby cheeks. I was so cute when I was a baby!”
I remember that image years ago, a scene not captured in these photos. Me looking out the window with a baby girl cradled in my arms. My sleep deprived self wishing my baby was already a toddler so she can sleep straight through the night. And when she wants something, she won’t have to cry because she can speak and tell me exactly what she needs.
“Mommy, when do you like us better? When we were a baby or now?”
Trust my girls to ask the right question about what’s exaclty on my mind.
“Well, I loved you then and I love you now. I always love you, no matter what age you are,” I tell them.
I’ve always been honest with my girls about how being a mother is not always easy. They know about the sleepless nights. Endless pee, poop and diapers. Colic and crying.
It’s part of the reason they don’t want a baby sister. Or brother.
I don’t tell them about the emotional rollercoaster ride of raising another human being. I figure they’ll know about it if they have kids of their own.
But in the end, I always tell them I’m grateful they’re my girls.
Because no matter what, love remains. Always love.
Sometimes when my kids ask me about how they were like when they were babies, I feel like there’s so many moments I no longer remember.
Maybe I can blame it on lack of sleep or exhaustion. But sometimes I wonder, how much of me was really there for them.
Even if I spend a lot of time with my kids every day, it’s one thing to be just around and a whole other thing to be truly present.
To give them a hundred percent of my attention.
No looking at the phone or at the laptop or somewhere far away.
To look them in the eye and fully listen to what they say and don’t say.
No generic “Uhm” or “Okay” or “That’s nice” even if you heard but didn’t really understand.
To truly enjoy the moment.
No worrying about what to eat for dinner, piling up work or the bills you have to pay.
To consciously say and do things from a place of love.
Not from frustration, anger or impatience.
I’ve given up on being positive all the time because the truth is, I can’t.
But each moment I aim for presence. With presence, I find peace. And with peace, I return to love.
“Mommy, I like you the way you are now. I wish you’ll stay this age. And that you’ll never grow old,” my little one says, a tiny tear glistening at the corner of her right eye.
I hug her tight, bury my face in her hair and say nothing. This is one wish I know won’t come true.
But I savor this moment when I can hold her close, when she still yearns and loves to be embraced.
I promise myself I’ll be present to enjoy more moments like these.
To create loving memories — a legacy I intend my children will treasure and remember, long after I’m gone.