A few nights ago, my older son donned his one-size-doesn’t-fit-all cap & gown and received his first “diploma.” To say he was proud of himself would be a gross understatement. At the post-ceremony reception he asked if anyone wanted to sit by “the graduation boy.”
As silly as this ceremony was, I still knew I wanted to soak in every moment and experience this small rite of passage to its fullest. Our last name put my kiddo near the front of the line, so I didn’t have to wait long for his name to be called. He beamed at me as he walked by, processing up the center aisle. I got my phone ready to snap the photo and this is what I saw.
I got three photos just like this. The next thing I knew, he was heading to his seat and the next name down the alphabet was being called.
This is how I will remember my son receiving his first diploma. I didn’t notice if he gave his teacher a hug like the next child did. I didn’t see if his teacher whispered something to him. I didn’t even see if he glanced at me when he turned to face the crowd. It was all a blur because I was looking at it through the screen of my phone.
Isn’t that how we recap so many of life’s big moments? It was all a blur. Our wedding day. The day(s) we give birth. Our child’s wedding day. It’s unavoidable, things are moving so fast or there is so much adrenaline that we inevitably look back with a foggy recollection.
But here, on this day, it was my action that sent the moment out of focus. Instead of looking at my first born and just taking him in, I held up my phone so I could capture it for all to see. I cared so much about preserving the moment for the future that I robbed the present of its joy.
Bummer, huh? But here’s the silver lining: This was a preschool graduation. We have at least three more graduations (probably all within the next four years!) I think I’ve learned my lesson, but as a mom of growing boys in an age where “If you don’t capture it on digital, it didn’t happen,” it’s just not realistic for me to say, “From now on, I’m going to put the camera down.” So here are some concrete action steps I’m going to take:
- If the occasion is special and I want photos, I’ll ask someone else to take them (someone other than my mom who still manages to get her finger in every shot). The secondary benefit to this strategy: When my kids look at me during that special moment, they’ll see my eyes instead of my phone.
- When we’re on vacation or at Disney for the day and I want to play historian, I’ll get my few shots and then put the camera away. If I have to, I’ll repeat to myself over and over, “You do not have to document every second. You do not have to document every second.”
- This part is important: I’m going to actually DO SOMETHING with all the photos I’ve taken. So much of my life is in jpg form instead of print. What a shame it would be if I lost all of those photos that I sacrificed the moment to capture.
Moms, let’s fight the urge to take pictures. Let’s savor that moment of grace when we feel the indescribable connection between our heart and our child’s and realize THAT is exactly where our focus needs to be.
Copyright 2017 Abby Brundage