Over the course of the Little Monkey’s first two years, I took hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures. But I’ve now realized that while I captured many moments in time and what they looked like, I didn’t capture the context. And, really, to fully capture life’s moments it’s not just the picture but the story behind it that’s just as important.
Someone recently asked me when Little Monkey first smiled. I didn’t know the answer. I could probably look through photographs and dates to see when smiles started appearing. But that first one, I don’t know. When did he take his first steps? I don’t know. I regret that I don’t have these early memories written down because they’ll never happen again.
Now, I’ve begun this love affair with journaling and writing things down but he was two by the time I started this. At least a year and a half of memories captured only with images. And I don’t intend to get all OCD with it but they grow up so fast and memories fade quickly. And, I feel like until he’s old enough to decide how he wants to document (or not) his own life, it’s my job to do it for him.
What’s This Story?
So in this photo, you can tell we’re happy, he’s happy. But what else? If I looked at this photo twenty years from now, would I remember what we were doing or where we were going? Why he had that big old smile on his face? I doubt it.
My little man loves trains, a massive understatement. And we’ve ridden a number of what I would call “miniature trains” at the Cotswold Wildlife Park or Blenheim Palace. Even vintage trains at the Didcot Railway Centre. But he’d never been on a real honest to goodness fast modern-day train. Well, he was when he was an infant on our journey into the US Embassy to get his passport but I don’t count that cause he wouldn’t remember. But you know what, we live a hop skip and a jump from the train station. So, inspired by one of my friends, a fellow mum with a boy also obsessed with trains, we rode the train. We bought tickets and got on the real train, rode it a couple of stops, and then turned around and came back. And it was magical. All for the cost of a latte.
My advice to you compulsive photo takers out there (well anyone really)? Write. Things. Down.
- Carry a small notebook or journal around with you all the time.
- Paste photos in your journal with little snippets of context.
- Record the anecdotes that will tell your family’s stories for future generations.
They say a picture is worth 1000 words. But is it?
Do you pay attention to the smells that surround you everyday? I know I certainly don’t. And with the chronic sinus trouble I’ve had since moving to the UK, I know my sense of smell isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be. But we’ve got a sense of smell for a reason don’t we? To give us more information about the world around us, warn us of dangers like when food gets rotten or when there’s a fire. Or to let you know when you need to cleanup that nightmare poo your child’s just done. But smells also stir emotions and memories, heightening our experiences in life.
Last night I made a dish that I’ve made several times before but had never really thought about why I like it so much. Is it because it’s easy? YES. Is it because it’s yummy? Yes. But as I looked at the ingredients I’d gathered on the cutting board, I realized that I also enjoy making and eating this because it just smells so good. The aromas of the lemons, rosemary, and garlic just have a little party in my nose making the meal more delicious. And the scents even hang around in the house for a while reminding me of a nice home cooked meal.
Why not take note of the smells you come across today? You might rediscover a bit of the world you’ve taken for granted.
And, if you’re interested, I made Heston’s Tagliata with Rocket and Parmesan Salad. Highly recommended.
This week I’ve been in the hospital for another procedure. A minor one, one of the things we keep trying in order to postpone the inevitable “major” one. I’ve been in and out of the hospital so much over the past twenty years that it really doesn’t phase me anymore. Hospitals don’t scare me, heck in my first career I used to work in them for a living. I’m no longer concerned about my modesty, about the parade of strangers that will see all my lady parts. Because really I bet they’ve seen worse. I do still look away when they stick me with needles though. Most times it doesn’t even really hurt, it’s just that I don’t want to see it. Looking away takes away that moment when I might wince in anticipation of the stick.
But this time another thought went through my head as I prepared to spend the day in the hospital. “Wow”, I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to get a good rest.” What has happened in my life that has me actually looking forward to going to the hospital because I’ll get some sleep? Parenting, that’s what. Parenting is exhausting. I think at the hospital I will have time to myself, time to sleep at will, and people will wait on me.
And I was right and it was good. That glorious sleep medicine was ice-cold when it started coursing through my veins but in a couple of seconds I really didn’t care anymore. Heck, in a couple of seconds I didn’t even know I existed anymore. And some time later, I don’t have any concept of how long, I woke up to a nurse saying “Hello” and asking me how I felt. “I feel good,” I said. Now let me go back to sleep.
This bed they’ve got me in is amazingly comfortable and warm. Are the blankets heated? Maybe. Later the nurse comes in and remarks on how quiet I’ve been. That’s because I’ve lain here snuggled into to these warm cozy blankets soaking in the quiet and the stillness and the deep uninterrupted sleep.
And although I’m fine, I debate pretending I’m not just so I can hide out here in the solitude a little bit longer. But I can’t. Parenting calls.