A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of a nice long chat with a friend who has two grown children. It had been three years since the last time we talked, and a lot had changed. He mentioned that his kids were taking their own career paths and had moved out of their family home. Since I’m at the beginning of my parenting journey, and he’s made it through the raising children phase of parenthood, we compared and contrasted our experiences as parents. Then, at some point in the conversation, he said something profound (that I wouldn’t fully understand until several weeks later).
“I don’t even remember my kids at your kids’ ages.”
He said this very matter-of-factly, and we discussed the concept at length. We theorized that it’s much more difficult to hang on to younger versions of our own children because we see them every day. We see them as they are right now. Whereas, our impression of other people’s children may be frozen in time from the last time you saw them. It was an intriguing conversation, and I agreed with the concept on a philosophical level. However, the full weight of his statement didn’t hit me until recently.
Our baby just had her first birthday at the end of March, and our first born will be three at the end of April. With all the running here and there, the dishes, the laundry, the planning of celebrations, the work, the play, and all the things, I managed to postpone the sad feelings about LG crossing over to toddlerhood. I managed to delay the realization that our babies won’t be babies forever. And while growing up is ultimately a good thing, it’s also a reminder that the special moments, the days, weeks, months, and years seem to slip through our fingers like grains of sand.
In the last three years since becoming parents, we’ve taken so many pictures and videos of our kids. At times, it’s even felt a bit excessive. Sometimes I think about whether I should put the camera down so I can fully experience the moment, or live my life through a lens so I can capture its essence for eternity. It’s been an internal struggle that I haven’t fully come to terms with.
In the days surrounding LG’s birthday, Jason and I (of course) took a bunch of photos and video of her. We also looked back to the ones we took around LB’s first birthday so we could reminisce. As we were watching some of the videos, both of us had the same realization. When we were living the moments captured by the video, we were both absolutely certain we would remember every time he did something cute, said something funny, or every time his smile made us love him just a little bit more.
The truth is, we’ve forgotten a lot of it. The truth is, without those pictures, without those videos, the memories would have been lost forever. Without a little help, we don’t remember more than a few details. The truth is, we don’t even remember what our son looked like three months ago.
We need those pictures and videos to remind us. We need them to capture the moments, the cute way our kids walk, their silly faces, the sound of their voices, the games they play, their laughter, and the special smiles they save just for mommy and daddy.
Now that I know how easy it is for those details to slip away, I’m so very glad we’ve over-documented our kids’ lives. I’m so glad to have reference material, so that in ten years I can look back at pictures and relive those moments. So I can look back and remember our babies when they were just babies.