For posterity’s sake

The other day in my haste to clear space on my video camera, I accidentally deleted about 70 irreplaceable family memories. I felt sick about it and still do when I’m lying in bed and trying to fall asleep. I close my eyes and am inundated with flashbacks of everything I erased – events like my daughter’s 10th birthday party and her first Lip Sync competition, but also countless adorable everyday moments.

I may have been rationalizing in order to live with myself and my guilt, but I began to question whether we really need every birthday party on video. Will we ever watch all of those events again? Sometimes it’s hard to foresee what we’ll cherish down the road, so we try to get it all “just in case”. Then we’re stuck with hours of footage and thousands of photos to sort on a rainy day that never seems to come.

In this age of technology we record almost everything that happens. Between Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, one could assemble a pretty complete documentary of an entire life story. However, at times I think we might actually be taking away from the moment because we’re so busy recording it.

Here is a perfect example: my nephew scored his first goal a few months back, and initially my sister regretted not getting it on film. However, she soon realized that she wouldn’t have been able to soak in the glory of the goal or the look on the little guy’s face the same way if her eye had been glued to the lens.

For some reason I have this belief that it is my responsibility as a mom to record my kids’ lives. I’m terrible at keeping photo albums and baby books up to date, because frankly I find it a bit overwhelming. I do have an on-the-go method that works quite well though. Each kid has a folder and I jot down cute things they’ve said, or put notes and artwork in there. Another thing I’ve started doing is scanning their notes and paintings and saving them on the computer so that I don’t have a huge physical pile. It saves space but also allows me to share their things with family and friends more easily.

My sister started a wonderful tradition that is not only an easy way to record memories, but one I think every parent should adopt. Each year on their birthdays, she goes off on her own to a coffee shop and writes a letter to her children. She writes about funny stories, accomplishments, and basically anything she wants them to know about what they were like at that age and stage of life. She then puts it away for them to read when they are older. Our children are our greatest blessing, so the idea of taking time out to write a tribute to them each year is just beautiful.

Like most things in life, balance and moderation seem to be the answer. That’s what I’ll keep telling myself tonight when my head hits the pillow and I try in vain to keep out thoughts of lost video footage.

We all know the saying “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day”, but while we try to live more in the moment and really soak it all in, perhaps we should also learn the Latin for “Back up Your Files”!

~ Jennifer


Archived from October, 2011.

  • Helen Spencer

    I can’t emphasise enough how important this stuff will be to our kids when they’re grown and we’re gone….tokens of love that we saved for them for decades. I lost my own mum and discovered that she’d saved so many things from my childhood for me to treasure. I became so passionate that I built a website where everyone can preserve their family memories, old and new on a chronological ‘lifeline’, Free. I hope it proves a useful resource for someone and I urge you to capture your family life journeys whilst you can….it’s an obligation! Helen, founder SaveEveryStep

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