Through Bella’s Eyes

Through Bella’s Eyes

The other day Bella asked to use the camera. She filled it up with pictures.

As you can imagine, many of them were blurry. Lots of out of focus shots of grass. Lots of shots with the camera strap dangling in the corner.

Not so many of the floor and ceiling, though. She’s got some of the basics of photography down.

Enough that she’s deliberate in what she points and shoots.

And a surprising number were really quite good. Not just good for a five year-old. Just good.

It’s so very interesting to catch these glimpses of what the world looks like to her eyes.

The funny thing about having children is that you are confronted so directly with the profound mystery that another human being is. I mean all human beings are profound mysteries—we can know parts of them but can never really know all that there is to know about them—but nonetheless one might be tempted to think that of all human relationships, a mother might be able to know the child that came from her body. There is no more intimate bond and yet that very intimacy throws into sharp relief just how little we can really know the essence of another person.

I spend so much time staring at my children, wondering who they are, who they will become. What thoughts are in their heads? Do they dream at night? What do they think about?

Anthony? What is life like to a four month old? None of us can remember and yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t a consciousness there. What is it like to be Anthony?

Or Ben or Bella or Sophie, for that matter?

It is such a privilege to be able to contemplate their beings, to be invited into their worlds. They are so funny, so profound, so full of joy and sadness. Everything is so very intense. So new and over the top. They are not jaded. Each flower and leaf is wonderful and I love seeing them with them, pointing to the wonder and being pointed.

I love the way Isabella uses words, the inventiveness. Sometimes the most mundane conversations suddenly leap into poetry as she tries out a word she’s heard somewhere before. She made a bunch of these little creations with her new pop beads and she told me they were her “tightropes”. See? Pure poetry.

In their eyes our little backyard is a wonderland. Bursting with life. Full of mysteries. Even death.

Full of adventures. Peopled with all kinds of imaginary friends. I can only imagine.

And what do I look like to them? I can catch glimpses. How I seem to my daughter’s eyes. I wish I were better, more… motherly. More gentle. More patient. More kind. You’d think that would be plenty of incentive. And yet it is so hard.

In their eyes, in their words, in their actions and reactions I see my own flaws writ large.

And yet I also see hope. Possibility. Room for change and growth. And also, surprisingly, acceptance. While change, improvement is certainly desirable, love doesn’t depend on it.

And yes, God can be found in the pots and pans and at the stove. And in the dishes and laundry and diapers.

Isabella’s photos remind me that I am blessed. So very blessed.

This messy life. Mint running wild, is it a weed or an herb? Something of both. And that’s what this life is too. Abundant, unstoppable, overpowering. Flavorful. Fresh. Refreshing.

It’s too much, perhaps. I’m overdoing it. Flooding this space with all these pictures. Indiscriminate.

And yet I can’t let go. I cling to them. I can bring myself to uproot the mint or to prune the roses or to weed the irises. I can’t stop my little boy from climbing or my inquisitive girls from snapping photos. I run the sand through my fingers and imagine a creator who treasures every grain. Yes. I think I get that. I contemplate the beauty in each and every view. How could I possibly choose which ones to let go?

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  • Oh, happy birthday Ben!  You and my Paul seem like two peas in a pod.  If you are, then please assure your mommy that sometime around the end of your third year, something miraculous will happen and suddenly all the words and ideas and frustrations that have been stuck inside your head will come spilling forth in beautiful fully-formed sentences and then you will sleep all night and sometimes sleep late in the morning and then the prayers will be of thanksgiving instead of supplication!

  • This post brought a huge lump to my throat. Two is a bittersweet age, to be certain. I can’t stop lovin’ on my boy…and yet, for every cuddle there is a pushing away, a “let me go”, an “I need you let me grow up, Momma.”

    Do I have to?

    Yes, I do.

    Happy birthday to your beautiful, handsome boy! We are neck & neck in this mothering race, Melanie, and I am so thankful for that.

  • Happy birthday, dear Ben!

    What a beautiful tribute to your son, and I echo what Margaret wrote. I’m thankful we’re treading down such a similar mothering path.

    God bless you and your handsome birthday boy!