The Importance of Throwback Thursday (and Flashback Friday)

Throwback Thursday. Who would’a thought such a thing would have had such a lasting effect? I thought for sure it was just a passing phase–a way for us to look back on when we had less wrinkles, less rolls, and didn’t have to have people take photos while standing on a stool above us as we angle our chins just so and then still put 17 different filters on that baby. I mean, that is one huge bonus of #TBT (and #FBF), that’s for sure. But it’s so much more than that.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately … probably more so since I downloaded the heavily addictive Timehop. Again, at first I thought this was just a silly app. But the more I looked at it, the more profound it became. My son recently turned 7 and, on his birthday, I was able to look at posts from that day on the last 5 years. I was able to see how he has grown and changed and become the self-assured little man that he is now. Where baby curls once were sits a head of coarse but beautiful hair that he’ll surely hate one day. Where the sweet, little cheeks were is now a face that’s sometimes lined with worry … already, and that makes me sad. I try to fight it but life and school and all that comes with it has already begun to worry him a bit. Still, though, his face is so sweet–with his soft skin and just the right amount of freckles. In 10 years, I’ll look back at these early Timehop photos and surely weep as my son picks his younger brother up from school. Oh, time, please slow down.

Lately, I’ve come across so many things from days past. Maybe it’s just because we’re trying to organize a little bit but most of it has just been happenstance. I reached for something in our bathroom linen closet recently and realized I still had the little yellow container that so many of us kept by the changing table when our kids were babies. In it was baby oil, baby powder, diaper creme (of course!), teething drops, and a baby thermometer. My heart squeezed so hard I thought I might cry. I’m not silly enough to glamorize those days, as those were some tough ones for me. I had pretty awful postpartum depression with both my boys. And they were both horrible sleepers. I thought I’d never make it. Never survive the sleep deprivation. I remember days when my husband would reluctantly wake me–having waited as long as he could before one of them was near hysteria from hunger–because he knew I needed that sleep so badly. I look at photos from those days and I can see how exhausted I was. Sometimes I see the misery. Other times, I look back on photos of me gazing at them and I see nothing but love. A love like no other. That love that springs up the first time you hold them and you know you’d throw yourself in front of a moving bus for them. That kind of love.

me_prego and olive

*In honor of Flashback Friday, this is me right before my first-born son, Finn, was born. Our pug, Olive, used to love to squish me and lay on my gigantic baby bump while I wrote on the computer. It was pretty miserable, to be honest, but, boy, does this pic make me smile now.

Of course, if I’m being honest, there are the #TBT photos of my single days that sometimes make me wish I could take off on a road trip on a moment’s notice. That I could catch that first snow in the mountains and ski ’til my legs hurt, only to sit in a bar for hours and hours after enjoying a self-indulgent apres-ski session as an artist strummed something acoustic that I love in the corner. Those were the days. And they were! As parents, I don’t think we need to feel guilty about thinking that. Not at all. We can be thankful we had days where we could be selfish. And that we had parents who supported us and sent us to college and put clothes on our back and just enough extra for long, lazy Fridays after class where we could sit at the bar and eat cheese fries and drink cheap beer. We can relish those times and all the good friends we met during them.

Each phase of life is such a gift. What’s interesting is how we can even see painful times as that after the fact. Photos that depict those gut-wrenching heartbreaks or losses in our lives can sometimes be looked upon with a smile as long as enough time has past. We took something away from that even if it felt our heart might literally break wide open at the time. Divorces, separations, miscarriages, losses of parents, losses of friends, losses of pets. All of these things seem like they will break us when they happen but, somehow, we move on. We move forward, one foot in front of the other.

Memory Lane can be a brutally painful place that’s filled with haunted houses, trees that ooze snakes and spiders, and seemingly eternal rainy days. Or Memory Lane can be a tree-lined street with endless sunshine that’s permeated by the smell of fresh flowers and houses with white picket fences. The thing about Throwback Thursday (and Flashback Friday, of course) is that we know from history that Memory Lane will always change. It will always evolve. It will look different every time we visit. No matter what, though, we should go. Always.

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