Throughout the pregnancy with my second and final child, I saw adorable picture after adorable picture of parents-to-be announcing the big news. Witty puns, funny costumes, creative cooking – it was all there. I never did a fun announcement. I was so sick during the first four months that by the time I felt well enough to do one, everyone already knew. Part of me regretted that I never put my creativity to good use on an announcement.
But it never mattered that I didn’t, because I was still surrounded by people who loved me and shared my excitement for my baby.
As I was cleaning one morning, I came across the prints of my son’s hand and foot, taken just hours after he was born. I realized that I hadn’t thought to do the same for my daughter, who was born at home. For the first weeks of her life, I was trying to adjust to being a mother of two and struggled with the transition. As I looked at the prints we had taken of our son, I instantly felt remorse that I never inked my daughter’s tiny feet and hands.
But it never mattered that I didn’t, because I still remember how it felt the first time she wrapped her little fingers around my hand.
As my friends had babies, we received birth announcements that captured those little creatures so perfectly that I could almost smell that new baby smell through the picture. It took me months to settle into a rhythm of parenting two kids and even longer to realize I never sent out a card announcing my daughter’s birth. I still hang every birth announcement we get on my refrigerator, each time lamenting a little that I never put one together for my daughter.
But it never mattered that I didn’t, because I can still close my eyes and remember how it felt to breathe in her new baby smell.
As the days, weeks and months passed and my baby grew, I took countless photos of her. Pictures of her first smiles, of her crawling into the cabinets, of her taking some of her first steps. As many clicks as my camera made, I never did take those “1 month old!” and “5 months old!” pictures that people take. One day, I realized I no longer count my babies’ ages in months, and I regretted that I never commemorated those milestones with a photo.
But it never mattered that I didn’t, because our photo albums are still filled with gummy grins, first teeth and knees scraped from her practicing to walk.
My daughter has never had a birthday party. She has only had a handful of birthdays, but by today’s standards, I apparently should have spent hundreds of dollars on Pinterest projects and junk food and matching plates-cups-hats-décor-signs-balloons-goody bags. As her next birthday approaches, I have started to regret that I never gave her a first birthday party.
But it never mattered that I didn’t, because I still have the memory of her diving into that cupcake as just my husband, son and I watched proudly.
It’s so easy for us to have these small regrets as parents. There will always be someone who made a better costume for Halloween, or uses a better filter on a baby photo, or developed a better way to record memories. For a moment or two, we might wish we had done something differently.
In the end, though, none of that stuff matters. Our children don’t care if the nursery has the expensive furniture or the DIY stuff from Target. When they are grown, they won’t be mad that we forgot the video camera for their fifth birthday party.
I’m trying to focus on the big picture. Some days that means getting my work done so we can pay the bills. Others, it means putting off work so I can spend more time with the kids. When I’m zoned in on the big picture, I sometimes forget about the little things.
I’m hoping that it never matters that those little things occasionally slip through the cracks, because I’m doing the best I can with what I have.