Last weekend as we were enjoying some sweet time with our friends, I found myself unconsciously reaching for my camera to catch a photo of Knox and Peyton playing with blocks together or Purslane and Cole playing in their pajamas under the crib. I took a series of the exact same picture because the light coming in the window behind them made some gorgeous shadows across Grant and Peyton's face while they sat on the couch and she played with his beard. I wanted to make sure I had the perfect one.
Grant joked with me at one point that there is no situation so cute or enjoyable that it can't be ruined with a camera. What he meant was "stop taking my damn picture and sit down and watch life happen through your eyeballs rather than a camera lens". In all fairness, he bought me the camera but I doubt even he could have anticipated the anxiety it would create in me to document our life so we wouldn't forget anything. If you don't have a picture, it didn't happen right??
Initially the Canon T2i was a medium for my new art form- photography. I promised myself I would never change the setting from "manual" and always take the time to mess with the aperture, shutter speed, etc so that it wasn't just a point and shoot, but a holistic process of looking at light, color, focus, subject. The things that make photos remarkable. Then I realized that two little babes do not hold still while you are messing with the shutter speed, and by the time I lined everything up they were in the next room. So I changed the setting to "auto" and began clicking away. I just tell myself that because I don't use the flash I am still doing some of the artistic work...
Enter Monday evening. I am part of a facebook group of Mamas in Pittsburgh who take advantage of social media to ask questions, give advice, share interesting books and blogs and in general just give support to one another around the topic of motherhood. We have started a babysitting co-op to watch one another's children after someone realized that they weren't getting out on dates because finding a babysitter is hard work, plus a downer to a fun evening when you walk in the door and have to shell out $50 for the privilege of going out without your children. It is a nice group of women and I enjoy reading the thoughts of other Mamas. Most of the time opinions are offered with grace and friendly helpfulness and I appreciate that. So many Mamas in one place and you realize quickly the broad spectrum of parenting that goes on- even in a small place like urban Pittsburgh .
Monday evening one woman posted a blog called Hands Free Mama. The obvious message of the blog was to put down your phones and tablets and just pay attention to your life- particularly your children- as it is happening in front of you. And it got me thinking- is it time to put down my camera? So many times I take pictures and am already composing the blog post to go with them in my head. Am I stealing Pursy's joy of doing simple things by putting a camera in her face and asking her to do it "one more time so Mama can take a picture!". Am I modeling doing things for the sake of taking a picture, and even worse- thinking more about sharing it with people who aren't even in the room??
Grant and I had a huge fight/discussion about facebook last week as well.. he was giving me a hard time about checking my page while we were driving, instead of talking with him. And I protested initially, but as he voiced his feelings about not feeling as important to me as my friends on facebook I felt like he finally got through to me. It isn't the social media that is wrong, it's the way it casually intrudes on moments that it shouldn't show up for. As much as I would love to share my morning french press with Ariel or Liz or Julia or Margo or Becki or Sarah- they aren't there.
But Knox and Pursy are. Every morning they join me for breakfast. And are happy to be there.
So two nights ago when I was cleaning the kitchen after dinner, I moved the computer to the third floor guest room. And yesterday morning instead of checking blogs or reading facebook feeds, I sat down at the table and had my coffee with my babes. And we talked about Yo Gabba Gabba and green juice and snowballs and what sounds elephants make.
And I don't have a picture of it, but I know it happened. And it was marvelous.