Photo Bug: Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday and while we were chatting on the phone with her about our recent beach vacation together she brought up one of the video clips I shot and posted on Flickr. She was (mildly) complaining that the :45 second clip was too short and that she wished that I had let the camera run longer to catch some of the other things that my son was doing.
First of all, I post about 3+ pictures every single day and a video clip a week of my son on our private Flickr page for our family and friends around the country to enjoy (approximately 1,700 images in his first year) so it cracks me up when I get complaints (mostly from the grandparents) about not posting enough images or if I don’t upload them by 10am every day. Secondly, she was sitting right there when it happened, so it’s not as if I’m telling her about some amazing feat that he accomplished in her absence.
It was at this point that I described my philosophy on capturing images of my son to her.
Status Update: I should say as a preface that I’m a Sculptor and Industrial Designer and that a lot of my work involves memory. Both the capturing of memories and the reminiscing of those fading and lost.I am obviously (via Flickr, Facebook and this blog) a believer in social media, but I am also a collector of physical relics from my childhood and basically the family Archivist. So she was shocked when I told her that with all my picture taking that I believe some memories are supposed to be captured in my mind and not shared with anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to post that cute picture of my son doing that thing that gets me 34 likes on Facebook (yea me) and everyone saying how adorable he is in the comments. But no picture could ever capture feeling I got the other day when he gave me a look while we were laying in the hammock reading Good Night Gorilla. He rolled his head back at me from underneath my arm pit, where he likes to lay, and rolled out a slow-mo smile that was just wide enough to let his newly arrived top 4 teeth peak at me for a split second before he turned back to the book. It was as if he was letting me know that he felt completely safe and loved.. and that he thinks that fucking gorilla is hilarious to get in bed with the Zoo Keeper!
iPresent: Increasingly I see parents holding iPhones (or whatever device) between themselves and what their kids are doing, and it makes me feel a little sad. Sure, that picture of little Jimmy eating an ice cream cone is great, I’m the last person to say that taking pictures of your kids to share is wrong, but take that one great picture (or maybe two to make sure you’ve got it) and put down your device and enjoy the moment. Note the little things, like the pattern made by the shadows of the DQ umbrellas or the breeze blowing through your nose hair, because it’s scientifically proven* that your kid will enjoy events more and more richly grow as a person if you are fully engaged in the moment.
Life Changer: People always say things like “having a kid changes your life” and that “You’ll love him more that you thought possible” and while all that is true, it does not really get at the heart of the matter for me. The relationship between us as Father and Son, or more precisely as Parent and child, is the thing that I was surprised by. Seeing his complete trust in me (and his Mother) and his desire to simultaneously assimilate into our pack and thrust away from it in order to discover himself as a person is honestly the most amazing part of being a Dad for me.
The fact that I have a supportive wife and that we are fortunate enough to be able to afford for me to be a Stay at Home Dad is something I am thankful for every day. That it permits me to have the time to savor these moments is truly more than I could have hoped for on that humid and blisteringly hot morning in July when we found out she was pregnant.
*Not really, I just made that up, but it sounds right.