Looking Forward by Looking Back

I’ve been doing a monumental amount of looking forward by looking back lately. I’m absolutely certain it has to do with this indefinable space of my life right now, were I’m learning to let go of everything I’m comfortable with, everything I’m used to, and being forced to look forward for the magic that is sure to come.L, J and J lake

Something really surprising has happened during this process. Something that has really made me stop and think about motherhood in a new way. Something that has caused me to question what memories I’ve chosen to hang onto, and how I choose to define the new path motherhood is about to lead me on.

Looking back on my first born, I vividly recall the sleepless nights, the insecurities, and the absolute amazement that I would be responsible for this little six-pound creature for the rest of my life. And I also remember the screaming.

She was what I considered a difficult baby. She rarely slept, nursed often, and always wanted to be on the go. She followed everything with her eyes, and struggled mightily to get what she wanted. After a few months of sleep deprivation and the desire to make life just a little bit more bearable, I realized that if instead of trying to set up a nursing schedule, or hoping that the bouncy chair would last long enough for me to get the dishes done-if instead of trying to make her fit my needs, I tried to fit hers, life would, or at least could, find a better rhythm. I discovered that if she looked forward, she was happy and content.L and mom Mike's wedding

It wasn’t until I was flipping through my old photo albums recently that the impact of this change really resonated with me. All she has ever wanted in her life is to look forward. She never liked being confined or fitting into someone else’s dreams. It wasn’t so much a selfish outlook on life; what she was really asserting, from a very young age, is her desire to move through life looking just ahead of where she was at the present moment. She wanted to see it all, not wait for life to pass her by.

In nearly every photo I have of her during her first six months she is smiling, a strong arm securely wrapped around her middle, facing forward, bright blue eyes shining.

L and John forward

In a few months she’ll embark on her first great adult adventure. She’ll have chosen her home for the next four years, her life ready to unfold in front of her. And I can relax a little now; I can exhale the air I’ve been holding for so long. I can trust that this grown up creature will make good choices and will let her wishes be heard. I can release my grip just a bit now, knowing she’s secure enough to go in the right direction alone. And I know she’ll face college just like she’s tackled every other challenge in the last 18 years – facing forward.

This post was inspired by the novel Reasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke who captures frustrating yet hilarious parenting moments through perfectly captioned photos of unhappy kids. Join From Left to Write on April 15 we discuss Reasons My Kid Is Crying. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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