Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Life Without a Lens

photo credit

Memory, when you're a mum, is a funny thing.  Some things stand out sharp, like the moment I picked Ebba up for the first time, or her first bath, or the first night we laid down just staring at each other in the moonlight.  But, in between these tiny blips, I pretty much remember nothing.  It's not like I remember things wrong, or that they're's just, kind of a black hole.

I realized this last night, and it made me a little bit sad.  When it's my own memories that slide into nothingness, it's sad enough.  But those first few minutes, days, weeks with Ebba -- I wanted to remember them all!  Now, I find myself asking my mum and stepdad, "Did I cuddle her? How often did I feed her? What was she like?  What was I like???"  It's not like I don't have fond memories; as I said above, I have little blips.

But this got me to thinking...  Before we had cameras and video cameras and all of that fancy stuff, did people remember things more?  I'm pretty sure that my memory for facts was better pre-Google.  Is it the same with memories of our own events?  I actually caught myself wishing that I had had people take more pictures of us as a family.  And even wishing I had been one of those annoying mums who took videos of every little burp and poop and cry my newborn did.  Yes, mum, you can give me your big-eyed 'I told you so' now and whip out your camera as much as you want next time we see you!

Or, on second thought, maybe not!  Maybe our over-reliance on electronic memory has made our own memories falter.  And while it's nice to have an external, objective way to see the past, there's something so wonderful about seeing the past through your own subjective lens, remembering the attached emotions and thoughts -- things that don't come out in those high-res videos on the hard drive.

So, as an alternative, I'm going to make an effort to preserve these cherish-worthy moments as organically as I can (boy, isn't that the buzz-word of the century!), by really living in them and turning my full consciousness on them.  Perhaps that will be a better way to preserve a memory.  To help me, in case the mindfulness doesn't work on its own, I'm going to start journalling regularly again because there's something about writing something down that solidifies it.

And, if all else fails, I guess I'll have my photos to fall back on. :)  I'm not going to venture out here without a safety net!

What are your guys' thoughts on preserving memories?  Are photos the way to go?  Or can we enjoy our present, and our past more by putting away the external lens and really submerging ourselves in the moment?


  1. You raise great questions - I have wondered about the best way to record memories when your baby is changing week by week. As someone who prides myself on being productive (well, before baby at least...), I found it very hard to just "enjoy the moment" with the baby all the time. In the first few weeks I kept an inconsistent journal. I also tended to take about 50 photos in a sitting, but then no photos for a long time afterward.

    I finally found a strategy that worked: the first 2 hours of the day were for doing nothing but focusing on the baby - massaging her, singing to her, paying attention to her every facial expression. The clock would start as soon as we got up. Then after the 2 hours had elapsed, I was allowed to divide my attention again. That's when I could do the household chores and - if I remembered - break out the camera for something extra cute.

    One other thing I don't regret is starting an email account for the baby. I send her emails with lots of details about our life whenever I think of it. I have found myself going into the account and reading them just for fun.

  2. Kris: Love your email acct idea! :) Before we even conceived E, I started a little journal of letters to her that I've still got going. I'm planning to give it to her when she's 16. :)

    And i love you 2 hours a morning strategy! I realized I kind of do that anyway, because E. is so happy in the mornings.

  3. This is great! But, if you stop sending ePods, there will be at least two extremely unhappy Grandparents!! :-)