Recently I was participating in the infinity scroll of Instagram and I stumbled upon a post by Jenny Mollen a writer and mom of two. She wrote an article for Parents Magazine about how not too long ago her son was having an adorable tiny human meltdown in the park and in a moment that threw her off – he asked her if she would take a photo of him. She said no that she was happy just being in the moment with him, which to her confusion made him disappointed. Her takeaway from it seemed to be that her son wasn’t feeling ‘seen’ unless she was snapping a photo of him in every moment. Yikes. (Link to the article below)
It resonated with me so much because I know I’m so guilty of trying to capture all the small cute moments that all seem so fleeting – especially with hindsight. Every time they’re interacting with each other or doing anything mildly cute I feel the need to preserve it in a photo.
The idea that children now will be far more susceptible to technology addiction wasn’t lost on me – it definitely lived in the back of my mind somewhere. But, after reading this post it was almost like a glimpse into the future. Her son is five and now after, I’m sure, years of having many of his life moments captured in photos he’s so used to it now that it’s almost left the impression that moments don’t mean as much UNLESS they’re being photographed. Is that true? Of course not, but is preserving them just as valuable to parents now as experiencing them?
Recently my dad made a comment that there are so many small tiny moments that he’s sure happened while my sister and I were babies but over time they just get filed away in the back of your memory and you forget about them. If I put together all the video footage and photos I have of the twins from their first year I have the ability to some degree relive it. All that time that when I think about it now is so veiled with sleep deprivation and anxiety and panic that I couldn’t pick out too many of those small little details on my own. But I can look back at photos and videos and it all comes back to me.
Since they turned one and have been running (literally) in every direction somehow it’s made me slow down and try to be more in the moment. They sped up and I slowed down. Maybe because they’re so much more difficult to capture now that they’re constantly on the move – but I think it’s been a really positive change and it’s allowed me to think more critically about what memories I want to preserve.
There’s, of course, the long standing argument about to or to not share your children on social media or on the internet and I tend to flip flop back and forth between the two constantly. I flip between not wanting to create an online identity for our kids before they can even say words while also being so mind bendingly happy that they exist that I can’t help but want to share them. I think there’s balance to be found in there and I don’t think that any (or many at least) parents have the explicit intent of exploiting their children – most of it is just delirious pride in these tiny humans you’ve created and wanting the world to know about it.
I think it’s not necessarily from a sad place but almost a place of anticipated nostalgia that there’s this need to document moments. So that if you have a photograph, one day you’ll be able to glance back and immerse yourself in the memory. You don’t want to miss things but you also want to have the ability to remember everything. I can’t say I’m regretful at all about having so many photos of the twins but reading that post was a nice wakeup call that although I have the desire to preserve all their little moments it’s more important for them to look back and remember me being present with them not just having a camera in their faces.