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Stop Taking Family Pictures – Live Instead

Kindergarten CircusWhen Jessica was five, I bundled up two-year-old Belinda and the stroller and the diaper bag and some snacks and my wallet and my keys and headed to Sandpiper Shores Elementary for the Kindergarten Circus! The only thing in the house I didn’t pack, was the camera.

We had purchased a shiny purple leotard, tights, and purple bows to complete her acrobat ensemble. That morning had involved special curling to make the long pigtails. She had practiced her somersaults and was in fine form. All was ready.

As Belinda and I settled ourselves for the epic performance, I reached down to grab the camera to recored the blesses event. In horror, I realized that the camera was missing.

A typical family even included Sam shooting video and me snapping still photographs. Capturing every event on film in order to “make memories” is what good parents do. But here I was, flying solo, without a single camera to call my own. And this was back in the “olden days” before there were cell phones that fit in purses — let alone cell phones with cameras.

I struggled with what to do. Should I quickly run home to get the camera — and risk missing the performance all togehter? Should I run to the office and call Sam at the university and ask him to drive home, get the camera, and try to make it to the school before the big moment?

Finally, I calmed myself and tried to be rational. Would I really be a bad mother if I just watched my daughter and cheered for her?

I sat back on my folding chair, smiled at Belinda, and watched the greatest show on earth. It was tremendous and I probably remember it more vividly than most performances I’ve ever seen.

No, the camera has not been abandoned. Just last night Monica was singing in Night on Broadway at the Scera theater and I was holding the trusty camera during her fabulous rendition of “Part of Your World.” But I do think it was pointing at the ceiling about half the time, because watching was more important then filming.

Still, that day I determined that I wanted to spend more time making memories with my family than capturing and memorializing them. I want to spend my life wearing myself out doing things — not sitting in a rocker looking longingly at a scrapbook about the past.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • DiNaRa February 6, 2011, 2:17 pm

    Great resolution! I would also like to spend more real time with my family and friends rather than watch old photos. It’s more exciting and … that is real life. Your memories can keep much more than just photos.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 6, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Spot on, DiNaRa! Thanks for dropping by.

  • SS February 7, 2011, 2:28 am

    Nice interesting writeup, quite unique of its kind, thanks for sharing!!..
    SS recently posted…SEO for the Keyword Web HostingMy Profile

  • Bryan Thompson February 7, 2011, 12:19 pm

    Alison, I’ve been there many times. We can get so caught up in wanting to store the event that we forget to live it and just be there. And let’s be honest, how many times will we watch that video? I’m sorry – this may make me a bad parent (but I do videotape my fair share of events) but I have NEVER watched the videos of my kids opening presents on Christmas morning – but I was sure a wreck to get the camera out on Christmas!

    I like the George Clooney line in “Up in the Air” where he’s giving the talk about the things in our “backpacks” and says, “If it’s on fire, what are you going to grab? Photos? Photos are for people who can’t remember.” There’s a lot of truth there.

    Thanks for posting.
    Bryan Thompson recently posted…If an All-Knowing Neighbor Gave You the Answers to Life- Would You ListenMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith February 7, 2011, 7:43 pm

    Oh, Bryan, thank you. We “bad parents” can band together! Great quote!

    We have, on occasion watched Christmas morning, but mostly just the youngest-to-oldest run down the stairs and initial Santa surprise. After that, dull! And birthday morning presents (which we still record) are the thing I can guarantee the kids will fast forward through. No one cares five years later!

  • IP February 8, 2011, 3:42 am

    hi Alison
    Its so true we some become so busy in capturing these events that we dont even remember that what exactly was there. Looking at those pics actually tells you that you missed it all. We are busy clicking and just forget to enjoy that moment and create a great memory. from now on will enjoy the moment.
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  • Alison Moore Smith February 10, 2011, 2:28 pm

    IP thanks for your input. Take time to smell the roses — don’t just take pictures of them. 🙂

  • OJ August 6, 2011, 6:10 am

    Thanks for this beautiful blog sharing with us…………….best of luck

  • Joy April 6, 2012, 5:37 am

    Something to think about. When my kids were small, I just had to take pictures…but thankfully not to the extreme. Developing the films and printing them are not that cheap (this was before digital cameras) and so I believe there was a balance of not getting too many snapshots. Now, we still enjoy looking at our old, not many photos and the memories that came with them.

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