The Art and Irony of Being Present

Today, a classmate I had at university posted a blog about taking time to dance, and being afraid of things and hiding behind your camera so you can remember the moment for later—remember a moment you never fully participated in.

It brought to mind so many things as I read. A lot of “Yes, absolutely!”s and then a few, “But wait”s. As I look forward to 2015, being present is one of my goals. I want to see my daughter. I want to be there, laughing at her, as she smashes in a cake on her first birthday. I want to get tears in my eyes over her first words. I want to play dolls with her, and hold her hands as she learns to walk. I want to stare at her when she sees Disneyland for the first time. I want to close the multiple Internet tabs I always keep open, turn off my WiFi, and write.

I want to cuddle close with a girl still small enough to cuddle, and I want to close my eyes and fall asleep with her while she’s still young enough to nap.

Sleeping Daughter

Except.

She’s turning six months old on Monday, and she’s more than doubled her birth weight and she’s grown five inches. I remember so many people holding her in those precious first few weeks. They all said the same thing:  “I forget how small they are.”

And that’s the thing. I want to be present, but I don’t want to forget. When I get frustrated by her as she struggles to say what she means this time next year, I want to go back and watch videos of her at five months old, when I was delighted that she could make dinosaur noises.

Sometimes Alexis thinks she is a dinosaur.

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When I’m having a bad day, I want to watch as she plays a toy piano with my dad in the background, playing a real one.

Playing music with Grandpa

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When she’s six, I want to show her what she looked like on her first birthday, smashing cake and smearing frosting all over her face. In order to do that, someone has to record it. Writing it down after the fact just isn’t the same.

I love watching home videos. Watching home videos was a favorite pastime of mine in high school. I would pull out the VHS player and look back at myself at 3, pretentious and begging for attention. “Videotape me, Mommy!!” If my mother was fully present in those moments, I wouldn’t get to see myself at 3, to enjoy later.

Do I enjoy watching home videos or looking at pictures of my daughter as much as I enjoyed dancing with my cousins to Disney music, or the feeling of my daughter as she sleeps against me? Of course not. But would I remember dancing with my cousins to Disney music without the videos? Will I remember just how easily Alexis fit against my chest? I don’t know.

And I don’t want to forget how small she was.

1 to 4 months

From 1 to 4 months

Comments

    • Thanks, Beth. 🙂 I happen to agree with you about her perfection, but I might be slightly biased. 😉 Yeah, I think there is a balance to strike between being present and recording things for later.

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