How do you feel when you sift through a box of photos, an old album, or see faded images in your family’s home? Your parents, your grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings fill your eyes and heart with memories. The emotional well we dig into is rich with nostalgia, sadness, laughter, embarrassment and a myriad of experiences.
As I sit here, I can recall several photos that are meaningful to me and create a narrative about my childhood. Squatting over my parent’s cat, “Squint”, in only a diaper in the front yard, hair wildly cascading with a decided look of glee spread across my face (I may have been torturing this poor beast). My sister, Amanda, and I dressed in our mom’s swimsuits while performing on a quilt chest, aka “stage”. Images of sisters dressed in their finest while hunting in mud for Easter eggs. My parents were documenting my life in such a meaningful way, likely without even realizing it. I now have the joy of reliving these tiny moments through a visual story. I know that I was and am important!
Do your children have these same opportunities?
I know that with how busy our lives are it’s easy to forget to pick up a camera and watch for these moments. Or, your life may seem mundane and not worth documenting. Let me tell you, this isn’t the case. Everything your child does is a part of their story, their growth and achievement. When they see a photo of themselves on your walls or in an album, they see not only the obvious changes, but they *feel* how much you love and care for them.
So, now what?
1. Pick up your camera or your phone to document this moment. Take it all in! Relish in the victory of seeing something beautiful in your child, because they will in turn see it too.
2. Hang at least one picture of your child in their room. You could even create a small collage with their family or friends. The connection they make builds self-worth.
3. Display photos around the house and in albums/books. This tells your child that the memories you have created together are important and worth honoring through the years. The tactile experience of flipping through pages in an album also creates a neurological response that cannot be copied by clicking on a mouse or swiping left to view digital images.
4. Make an effort to sit with your child and tell them stories that accompany the images. Ask them questions, go deep into the image, and help your child see the importance in that moment. They will grow in their understanding of themselves and how you see them. Confidence thrives in this environment!
5. When you document your life, your child sees where they fit in. They see the history of family before them and begin to understand how they are not just an individual, but part of a larger group to which they belong and are loved. There is so much comfort in this knowledge that will grow stronger through the years.
Think about the everyday moments that create vivid emotions. Don’t get stuck on the “happy” moments only. I want you to go deeper and think about how your family bonds are strengthened through action or inaction. How does your child respond to “no”, to not hearing him the first time, to jumping on the bed with you, being held? Now, take those feelings and create something! Then, share with me on Instagram @amythelenphotography using the hashtag #oureveryday. I can’t wait to see what your life looks like!
Here’s to realizing the present in all it’s chaos and beauty!