As I watch my magic picture frame with nearly a thousand photos of my family cycle through, I realize that I have drastically different viewpoints on my kids as they were growing up.
For a little background, Princess is nearly 7 years old while Little Dude will turn 4 next month. Since Little Dude was born right at the beginning of my shore duty, I’ve been there for his entire life. On the flip side, I’ve deployed twice since Princess appeared and spent plenty of time underway when not deployed.
When you miss huge chunks of time like that, you notice the changes right away. You have a mental picture in you mind, but when you actually see her again, she’s drastically different. On the flip side, when you’re always around, you witness the changes as they happen, so they’re not quite as profound.
As a result, when I think back over Princess’ early years, it’s like looking at a slideshow. I remember her when she was 1 week old (I missed the birth), and I can picture her when she was about 6 months. From there, she instantly becomes 12 months old. In my next picture, she’s nearly 2 years old. I remember her saying about 3 words and taking her first steps. The next time I saw her, she was talking in complete sentences and helping to unload the car. You notice changes like that pretty quickly.
Little Dude, on the other hand, is more like watching a video. To me, he’s never really changed. I know what he looked like as a newborn, and I know what he looks like now, but it’s really hard for me to recognize the changes that took place in between. I remember the huge events like his first steps, but without those huge time gaps, he’s always just been the same little guy to me.
Now that my shore duty has ended, I can already see the slideshow beginning again. I’ll talk to them on the phone, and they sound more mature. When I bring up Skype, I can already see the changes that have occurred since I left.
I’ve never taken my time with my family for granted, but I would certainly love to be able to hit play on the video again.