Back when my sister was expecting her baby, one of the things they did was get everyone to share their best piece of parenting advice.
I still find myself thinking about this on a regular basis.
The best advice I got came from a taxi driver. He had a young child who he loved deeply, and was so proud of.
He said, ‘You can never take too many photos and videos. Ever.’
He was right.
They grow so fast, and when the moment is gone, it’s gone. Even if it feels like overkill, err on the side of more. It’s even more precious to capture the ordinary things, or the low moments, as it is the special occasions.
It’s those little things like the mispronounced word or funny habit that was so precious is suddenly gone.
I try to take lots of photos, but when I look back in my phone, I see that some days, I only manage a snapshot or two. It’s hard to know when to interrupt the moment to photograph, and when to just live it. But looking back at the images and videos from when she was a baby, they are unbelievably precious.
I think it’s important to document some of the hard times as well as the good ones. Sometimes you’ll look back and wonder, was it really that hard?
Last week, I took a video of my daughter having a borderline tantrum. I was present and engaging with her at the time, but I realised I only had photos and videos of smiling and laughing. And that is definitely not reflective of our full reality. I wanted to be able to remember what it sounded like and felt like, when she was furious her daddy wasn’t home because she wanted a cuddle.
It’s always possible to delete things later if they feel inappropriate, but we can’t go back in time.
The good news is, there is always a fun new stage around the corner.
Still, I try to remind myself to document as much as I can.
I never saw that taxi driver again, but his advice has stuck with me for life.
As I wrote to my sister, it’s a way of making a very ephemeral process (i.e. being in the moment with a small child) feel real, and it will be a gift for you and your child as you create the story of your family.
(PS Digital backup system is a must!!!)