I used to wonder why folks would keep pictures of their babies around on mantels or walls even after the babies had long grown up. I used to wonder, that is, until I decided to do the same thing myself. Yes, I have more current photos of my now-grown sons that I proudly display on my piano. But I also have three baby pictures that hang on my wall that I can’t give up. And each time I gaze at these pictures I’m reminded that the personalities of each were firmly established from day one.
For instance, without naming names, since I don’t want my kids to be annoyed with me (I procured their permission, btw, before writing about them in my forthcoming memoir), I’ll just say that the expression on the face of my first child is exactly the expression that I see so often now that he is 30 years old: serious, pensive, and just a bit critical (as in, "Why are you pointing and flashing that thing at my face?").
My second son, 25, can also be clearly identified in his baby picture: joyful, playful, sensitive, and a bit of a joker; the same at 15 months as he is now. The third picture also perfectly captures my youngest son (now 22): Pensive, sweet, and just a tiny bit mischievous.
It’s often said that nothing stays the same, that people change, and that we shouldn’t get too attached to things the way they are. Yet I take some comfort in the fact that even though my children (and if you have them, possibly yours as well) are no longer cute little babies, they still possess many of the same characteristics and attributes that made me love them from the very start. Certainly they’ve grown and evolved, and would mostly likely prefer a beer to a bottle of milk these days. Yet they still, in some ways, are precisely the same children I met in the labor room, the same babies I carried in my womb for nine months, the same toddlers who climbed on the counters and chased fireflies in the backyard.
Sure, things change. But some things—if you look closely enough—stay exactly the same. And for that I am grateful.