When you reflect back on to your own childhood, what do you remember?
Is it just a highlight reel of your milestones? Big birthday parties and Christmases, vacations and awards?
Or is it a stream of little moments- the mundane, the normal. Except it doesn’t feel mundane when you remember it, coated in nostalgia.
Milestones are wonderful, but the magic of childhood lies in everyday moments. Riding bikes, exploring the woods, building lego towers. Endless days of imagination and exploration.
When I look back on photos of my childhood, I enjoy and appreciate the milestone moments. The photos at Disney, my birthday parties, Christmas morning. But I’m finding what I enjoy most is the normal, everyday moments. Photos at the dinner table, lounging on the couch, playing in the backyard. Photos that remind me of who I was back then. Photos that show me not just what my Mom looked like at my current age, but photos that show the love in our family.
Looking back on these images, I don’t care if the room was a mess. But I do care about looking at it, at remembering the way things were, the way it was decorated, our belongings and LIFE 30 years ago. Remember when we lived here? Remember this couch, and the way we’d pile on it when the power went out, eating mandarin oranges out of the can? Remember this particular corner in the neighborhood, where my friends and I would gather to go roller skating? My favorite tree to climb?
We owe it to our children to save these moments for them.
To create a time capsule of who we are as a family, right now. Our real stories aren’t airbrushed and filtered- the mess is just as authentic as the joy. Give them something to look back on when they’ve grown to become parents. Photos and albums they can hold in their hands, long past when technology has changed and the images on our photos and on our computers have gone the way of the cassette tape. Give them something to look back on, to point at and enjoy the nostalgia. Remember when they were obsessed with superheroes? Remember when they weren’t tall enough to reach the sink?
These little stories are our only real legacy. If we don’t tell these stories, if we don’t take the effort to somehow preserve them, they will drift off to nothingness, forgotten to our future adult children and lost to their own children.
Milestones and Moments
I make it a point to find a story every day. Sometimes these are milestone moments- learning to ride a bike, receiving a big award. These things are still important and should be celebrated. But life isn’t a milestone every day, so I try to put equal emphasis on the moments, as well. Favorite places to hide. The way their faces light up in animated conversation with each other. How we spend our weekend mornings. Our bedtime rituals and routines.
If you are new to family storytelling, it may not feel easy. It’s a new muscle to strengthen, a new art form to learn. But if you continue to practice it, you will see stories unfolding all around you, countless pieces of your legacy to preserve for the years to come. Celebrating the now helps me live a mindful life, to look beyond my task list and be present with the little people I love so much.
If you need help finding the stories in your life, reach out to me! I can come photograph your family to give you an heirloom-quality time capsule so you can freeze today in all its messy and beautiful glory. Or I can teach you how to do it yourself, to find these stories that you will treasure in the years to come.