A peek inside the mind of an anxious mother: I have trouble deleting photos of my kids. It can be out of focus, blurred from motion, dark, but I'm still going to keep it. I'm afraid that child will die and all I will have will be my pictures of them. What if that blurry picture is all I have left of Michael's "crazy face"?
When I was thinking this, though, I realized Michael doesn't even do his crazy face anymore. I still have Michael, but I don't have that Michael. So I'm stuck with the blurry pictures anyway.
Above is baby Marko. I don't have baby Marko in my life anymore. I have five-year-old Marko, but that's not very similar. He isn't that size, shape, ability level, or appearance. He doesn't remember being that baby. The things I loved about him -- his smell, his tiny little hands, his milk-drunk face -- are gone.
Anyone that we love may change. We reassure ourselves by reminding ourselves of the things that didn't change. They changed their hair, but they're the same personality. They changed their opinions, but they kept the moral anchor that helps them choose their opinions. And of course, they remember our history together and all our in-jokes.
But babies? They change completely. There is pretty much nothing about them that stays the same over time.
That's why the love of a mother is so special. With anyone else who loves us, we can say, truthfully or not, "They only love X about me. They only love Y. They might stop loving me if I changed." We fear that. But our mother, we know is going to love us no matter how we change, because we've already changed drastically and they still love us. That's why we talk of a "face only a mother could love." Everyone deserves this kind of love, and there's nothing worse than growing up without it, as some do.
A mother strings together the disparate points in time, the different selves the child is, and chooses to love the substance of the child -- the whole changing thing they are. I love Marko because he was once that tiny baby, and because he is such a joy at five, and because someday he will be a grown man who doesn't remember as much about his own story as I do. And because each day has led into the next day, so that while he changes, I also change, and each of us strings together these days into our lives -- the love remaining constant. But most of all, because he is him, and he is a person I made up my mind to love.
I miss his baby-self, and Michael's crazy face, and Miriam's tiny little feet. But it doesn't really matter, because my love has grown with them to find new things about them to love, every day.