I used to wonder how you got to be old – it all seemed so far away. All those days and years would never pass at the rate they seemed to when you didn’t want to be sitting in a lesson, or waiting for a birthday or Christmas. When I was 13 I remember trying to really capture in my head what it was like to be that age. “When I’m 50, I’ll remember what it was like to be 13” I said to myself, and every few months this pops back in my head. Early next year I’ll turn 40, so I’m getting there. Problem is, other than that little phrase, I can’t recall what it was like being 13 at all.
Too much time has passed, and now I see how it happens, and it’s nothing remarkable of course, just the slow ticking of time. You can’t not get older – it doesn’t take any effort. And now with kids, that process seems to be more and more obvious. Lois has started Year 2, and Carrie has gone into nursery at the same school, in her little red uniform. Lois will be 7 in October, and that sends a little chilly shock through me – I can see now, what people mean when they say they’re not little for long. The kids have very little concept of this process of course. They both just want to be big girls.
I’m in a transition in my working life, with my photography being edged out by, of all things, making Lego models of buildings. This is really exciting for me, but it all adds to the sense of change and of eras passing that I’m feeling at the moment. If this trend continues, the kids might remember nothing of my days as a photographer, which was for so long all I dreamt about being.
Now that Carrie has started nursery she is in the system. I had my last weekday off with her last week, which marks the end of about 6 years of having at least one day off a week with one child or other. All during that time I was aware that I was ‘sacrificing’ my work time to be with the kids – that I’d never get that chance again and that it was only a few years. I resented it at times but now, all of a sudden, that’s over.
Everything I recall of my own parents’ careers and lives starts from about the age that I am now. That thought seems scary and full of potential. My own childhood, school, university, early career, recent career – all of that is hidden to my girls in the ‘olden days’ – as relevant as the dinosaurs. For them, who I am and who my wife is – in terms of our careers, hobbies, approaches to life – is not set. That’s one of the wonderful thing about kids. They mark the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another when you have them, but then they get older and start asking questions about you. They start to really see you – these new eyes full of unconditional love – and they make you really question who you are and who you want to be to them.
Steve Mayes | Steve Mayes Photography