Thursday, January 29, 2015

What About Those Moments that Cannot Be Captured on Film?

I recently read a lovely blog post from an empty nester's perspective on what should be documented past the usual first couple of years of milestones in a traditional baby book.  It got me thinking about what I already know I am going to miss as my little guy continues to grow.  And unfortunately, there are certain things that cannot be captured in a photo nor on video, so I realized that I am going to have to resort to a blog post in an attempt to try and capture feelings and emotions of those special times we share.

As my son is a full on toddler, the nursing relationship we now have is very different than when he used to nurse as a baby. It's no longer about nourishment, but provides us with a special quiet bonding time before and after sleep.  Whether it's reading a book before bed time, or when he's slowly waking up, these moments of just me and him are so very special for both of us. Sometimes I'll do something that will give him the giggles and I'll have to just keep doing it because I love that sound so much. We look each other in the eyes and just spend that time enjoying each others company without the rest of the day's distractions.

I am going to miss the time we spend playing silly games at home that have no rules or sometimes simply do not make any sense.  He likes to tell me "mommy go hide."  I'll quickly take off to one side of the house with him following close behind, laughing all the way.  We will do this over and over again because he finds it so entertaining.  I have tried to teach him the proper way to play hide-and-seek, but the concept of covering his eyes fully and not following me until he has counted to five still is beyond him.  The fact that he tells me exactly where to hide every time probably breaks all the rules of hide-and-seek as well. 

Even though watching the same movie over and over again can be somewhat redundant for an adult, I'll never get tired of seeing his smirk and the glint in his eyes when we both look at each other right before one of his favorite scenes is about to happen. If I happen to be in another room when it comes on, I definitely know what scene is happening based on his giggles and laughter.  He tells me "Xander find it funny," an expression he also uses for a certain book he likes me to read relentlessly.

Sometimes out of the blue he'll tell me "take my hand, mommy." Sometimes he'll ask while he is eating, or when he wants me to go with him to another room in the house, or sometimes it's to go down a big slide or climb up something at the park.  Holding that little hand in mine provides me comfort and joy, just as much as I know it does for him.  Along the same lines, he'll tell me "baby me, mommy," his terminology for when he wants me to carry him somewhere. Even though he is getting heavier and more difficult to carry, I'm sure he'll stop asking before I stop being able to do so.

I am definitely going to miss the surprise and pride I feel when my little toddler says a new word or phrase for the first time.  I'm sure there are going to be plenty of firsts throughout his life that will give me a similar feeling of pride, but there is something about hearing a word for the first time, probably miss pronounced, but said with such confidence and excitement.  I find myself having to repeat what he just said to let him know that I not only heard heard it, but want to encourage him to continue to expand his vocabulary on a daily basis.

Another thing that cannot be captured, that I know I will definitely miss, is the way my son wraps his arms around me and lays his head on my shoulder when I take his sleeping body out of the car.  There is such a sweet innocence and tenderness in his quiet, sleepy body that makes me want to hold him like that forever.  Even when I have been looking forward to nap time all morning in order to get some much needed chores done, I will try to hold onto that moment for as long as I can.

The "terrible-two's" really can be a trying time.  And as I've heard from others who have come before me, the wrath of a "three-nager" may leave me longing for a good 'ole two-year-old tantrum.  But there really are some wonderful moments right now that I wish to remember forever.  Hopefully the photos and videos I have captured, and journal entries I have made will at least document a fraction of the beauty that has been.  I have learned that looking forward to each new milestone is a surefire way to miss out on just how wonderful the "now" really is.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year's Resolutions From Another Perspective

Every time New Year's comes around, my Facebook news feed is flooded with resolutions about everything under the sun.  Some people write about how they plan to better document time with their families.  I understand that documenting your little ones can get overwhelming, but it is extremely important to do so. I cannot stress that enough.  I started thinking about what I may do differently the next time around, but then wondered, what if there isn't a "next time around?" What if my little guy is the only addition we're going to have? What would I have done differently had I known from the get go that this was going to be the only time I would experience all of this?

I definitely would have documented my pregnancy more, that's for sure.  I saw pregnancy journals online and in bookstores and wondered at the time why I would want or need to track the changes I was going through, the cravings I was having, and the emotional roller coaster I was on.  If I am lucky enough to go through this again, I don't even think I would have the time to do this with chasing my little guy around. Your first pregnancy really is the best time to focus on yourself and what your body is going through.  I definitely didn't appreciate that I could nap if I needed to. It was such a surreal experience to grow a human for what seemed like nine interminable months, but now it all seems like such a distant memory that went by so quickly.  If I never get to go through it again, I am definitely saddened that I can't recall so many of the details that were such a huge part of those awe inspiring nine months.

Additionally, having had the opportunity to create prenatal chapters for some clients' video baby books, it has made me realize that wish I had captured my husbands reaction when I told him we were expecting.  I wish I could have captured other family and friends on camera when we shared the news.  I also wish we had done a creative gender reveal video. If there is a next time, I will have to make something unforgettable, and it will be, because it will be captured on film.  If I don't get to have my "next time," I hope my video baby book business helps others not have this same regret.

If I knew I wasn't going to have another child, I would have hired a birth photographer and videographer. Labor was so intense, but also so amazing, beautiful, and inspiring, that I really wish I had better documentation of the day.  I definitely also wish I had written out my birth story in more detail closer to the day I had given birth.  Waiting until a month afterwards I think some of the details got fuzzy.  Having had the opportunity to interview brand new moms and document their birth stories for them makes me realize just how much I have already forgotten.  As much as I wanted my husband to turn off his helmet cam because I thought I'd never want to see myself going through that experience, I am so glad I have at least that to remember the most beautiful day of my entire life. 

If I knew my munchkin was going to be the only squishy baby that I would ever have, I would have done a professional newborn shoot.  I love seeing everyone's adorable shots with props and wardrobe, but now that I have had the opportunity to be behind-the-scenes of some of these shoots, I cannot get over how undeniably precious those photographs are. Knowing that the best newborn photo shoots take place within ten days of birth, that newborn "look" is gone in an second when most don't even realize they've missed it.

If I knew that my little guy would be the only newborn I would get to experience, I definitely would have tried harder to enjoy the newborn stage. I know it's really hard for new parents to find joy in the sleepless nights and zombie-like days filled with worry, doubt, fear and confusion. But watching a new life learn about the world on the outside from such an innocent and unaltered perspective is truly inspiring. I remember an extra speedy grocery shopping trip with him in the early weeks and someone commented to me that she missed the "newborn cry." At that moment I thought she was crazy. That cry was making me crazy at the time. But now I understand, and I miss it too.

So in 2015 my resolution is to unplug more, appreciate each little milestone my son accomplishes, take the time to mourn the passing of previous stages, and document everything as much as possible for myself and for him.  This very well may be my only opportunity to capture a two year old and all his silliness and mispronunciations, and I'm not going to miss it.