family, reflection

Capturing Memories

All my life I have been drawn to the ways we can capture moments and memories to last beyond the present day. As a child, I would take unused photo albums, their plastic pages ripping across the lines of yellow adhesive, and store mementos from childhood: Mrs. Grossman’s stickers, newspaper clippings from our weekly Mechanicsville Local paper that spotlighted classmates I knew, and printed photographs I received in the mail from sending away my Kodak roll of film. I would write letters to myself on New Year’s Eve, summarizing the year that had just passed, then carefully place them in the album as a keepsake to open when I was old. I was a joy collector even before I knew there was such a thing to be.

I reflected on my life through writing in my diary, then later in college I wrapped words into snippets of poetry, trying to capture once again the powerful emotions of an event or occasion. When my first child was born, I discovered the wonderful world of scrapbooking where I could mix my passion for capturing memories with my love for written expression. I adored it so much, I actually made it my side hustle, working as a Creative Memories Consultant. A year and a half later, I had advanced to a Senior Consultant position, serving more than 200 clients with monthly newsletters and gathering opportunities where we could work together to enhance our craft of documenting stories for generations to come. All this while teaching and parenting, too.

Time passed on. I moved two more times, had two more children, changed jobs, and shifted into a new normal that now includes advanced technologies and social media. My photos are no longer printed, but stored in the cloud; my memories now shared through blogs, tweets, and posts for the world’s consumption.

As my life has become more hectic, I find it challenging to capture the small moments as they occur. Sometimes I’m great about sharing a quick post that brings me joy or makes me laugh; other times a week will pass and I’ll be shocked that I didn’t post a thing.

Luckily, Facebook reminds me each day what I posted on this exact day years before, those memories frozen in time to remember again. I am already so thankful for those brief walks down memory lane. It’s like a window into the mom I used to be (and in many ways still am!) They are moments I never want to take for granted.

This week I was reminded of two separate moments seven years ago that brought such incredible joy. In one post, I had captured my then three-year-old son blaming his toy for creating a mess in our living room. “No do dat, Iron Man! No break puzzles!” I laughed and laughed at his innocence and complete unawareness that I had literally watched him stomping on the puzzles and throwing the pieces in the air just a few minutes before.

In the other post, I had shared photos from taking my middle child to the annual Valentine’s Day dance at his school when he was in third grade, only nine years old. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it would be the very last school dance I ever attended with one of my children.

“No do dat, Iron Man! No break puzzles!”
“Mommy! Look what Iron Man did!”
Daniel and I heading out to the Valentine’s Day dance.
Being silly in the photo booth.

Seeing these memories after so many years reminded me, once again, how quickly time passes in our lives. It also reminded me how quickly our memories fade and dissipate when they are not documented. Sure, I remembered the Valentine’s dance with my son, but not the details of what happened. Seeing us together in the photo booth photo instantly put me there with him, remembering all the other things we shared that night. I remembered the music, the cookie decorating station where we ate more cookies than we made, and the pride in his voice when he led me to Mrs. Priolo’s “Hearty Handfuls” station saying, “This is how my teacher shows kindness to others. Can we buy a bag or two?”

Each time I see one of these memories pop up in my newsfeed, I take time to embrace the moments I see on the screen. I share the memories with my kids (now pre-teen, teen, and adult) and we often find ourselves laughing about times gone by. There’s a sweetness to it all and sometimes a little pang of wistfulness as we realize the memory has come and gone.

This week, I encourage you to capture your memories and share in a space that will bring you joy at a later time. For some this may be a quick post on Facebook or Instagram, where you can scroll through another time. For others it might be actually printing a photo or two to place on your desk or maybe jotting down the things that make you happy in a journal. Whatever works best for you, make a commitment to capture your memories. Years from now you and your family will be so thankful you did.

Life is about #makingmemories. Let’s get out there and make them the best we’ve got!


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