Afterglowing

By Megan

Saturday was “un-decorating” day at our house. It’s a job I’ve dreaded every single year since I was a a little kid. I hate that it’s all over so soon. When Bean asked, out of nowhere, if we could watch old home videos of her as a baby while we did the dreaded deed, I jumped at the idea.

We watched the videos in order, from the sixty minutes of footage taken immediately before Bean was born, of Al and me sitting calmly on the sofa as the first contractions of my labor started, of me, in a bed at the hospital as those contractions were monitored on a screen behind me and then later as our tiny beautiful baby girl still covered in goo is weighed and measured and passed to me for our first kiss and snuggle, to another hour of footage of Bean just learning to belly-crawl on the floor of our living room in Atlanta, and every sweet, precious, happy moment in between.

We’d seen all this film together before, Bean and Al and me, and Bean loved them for a few minutes but quickly tired of what seemed like the same things over and over again. Thirty minutes of one-month-old baby on the floor in the sunshine and a Mama with her camera trained on perfect lips and eyes to catch a smile or coo. Not much fun for a busy 3 or 4 year old who no longer thinks of herself as that baby and who has a baby brother who looks just like that and does all those same things. Ho-diddly-hum, Mom, let’s bake cookies now.

But this time was different. Bean sat riveted for nearly 4 hours, watching herself. And listening. She heard her mother coo and giggle and talk-talk-talk-talk to that sweet baby. I must have told her with every breath of every minute of every tape how beautiful and good and smart she was. My voice, as I hear it now, full to bubbling over with amazement and adoration for her. I talked about her, about how old she was, to the VERY DAY, in every clip. Each segment features my calm, peaceful, gentle voice describing the day, the weather, our activities that day, what Bean has eaten, when she’s slept, her latest milestones, where Daddy is and what he’s doing – every tiny little detail rattled off cheerfully over a shot of Bean playing, crawling, splashing in the bathtub, playing peekaboo with our kitty through the kitchen door.

I could see my daughter listening to that me on the screen, taking it all in this time, so different from the others when she totally disregarded my narration. She asked me questions, Mama you said there was a hurricane where Daddy was – what happened to him? and Mama did I really eat sweet potatoes and ham for dinner? He was fine – everyone was fine. YES! Can you believe it? You ate them with gusto, too!

I talked directly to Bean, too, in the videos. Grown-up Bean, I’d purr, you’re out there watching this aren’t you? Look at yourself! Look what a beautiful baby you were. Mama loved you so much. You were the absolute light of my life. And you know what? You still are, now. I know that because I look at you now and I see our future together, how we’ll grow and change but that you will always be, no matter how big you get, my sweet little baby. Forever. And I saw her smile and look over at me. I say these things to her now. I wonder how it feels to her, to know I’ve been saying them to her all along.

I tucked her in last night and held my cheek to hers as I whispered in her ear. I had a great time with you today watching those videos. Did you enjoy that?

Mmm hmm, she replies sleepily.

Could you hear and see how much I loved you then? How my heart was just filled up with joy over you?

Yes, she nods, smiling, maybe a little bit embarrassed.

Bean, listen to me. As much as I adored you then and promised I’d always love you and you’d always be my baby, no matter what, you know what the big surprise was to me today as I watched us together?

What?

That I love you so much more now. I didn’t think it was possible at the time, but I do. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. You and Daddy and Peabody. I’m completely overwhelmed by how much I love you guys. Every day I love you more and more.

And then we hugged and kissed and I said Goodnight, my sweet lil baby Bean. And she loves me back.

I’m getting out my video camera today to capture new video of this family who will make me laugh and sigh and love them more tomorrow than I do today. And next year I’m going to be looking forward to un-decorating day.

5 Responses to Afterglowing
  1. The Diaper Diaries
    January 11, 2010 | 6:59 am

    Absolutely love this post. Thanks for sharing Megan.

  2. Carrie
    January 11, 2010 | 8:51 pm

    Wow, this was so sweet!!! Brought tears to my eyes- what a neat tradition! 🙂

  3. T with Honey
    January 13, 2010 | 3:58 pm

    This just gave me new motivation to get our video clips onto DVD or some medium in which we will actually watch them. I have some great stuff on 8mm tapes of Princess as a baby and toddler but we never watch them because they aren’t on DVD or some digital form on my computer.

  4. Kelly
    January 15, 2010 | 1:27 pm

    I’m so impressed she watched them at length. My kids still get bored after 1 minute of the same shot. 🙂

    But they love to watch the edited versions. There is nothing like home movies. We are so blessed to live in a day when it’s so easy to make them.

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