(this doll is by my friend and DIY hero Merrilee)
When I met Jeremy and we fell in love he didn’t share my passion for photography and blogging. He still doesn’t care much for it although he contributes to the posts here on adoption sometimes. He supports me to share what I share and he participates sometimes because he loves me and marriage is built around compromise. But would he have a family blog without me? Zero percent chance. He’s naturally more private than I am. I love him and care about his feelings so what I share about our life is probably far less than what I may have with another partner. When we vacation together I have days where I take a lot of photos and videos and full days where I don’t take any. We found ways to get what we both want.
Compromise. Boundaries. Respect.
But what happens when you bring a two year old home who can’t and doesn’t have opinions like this yet? She has no say in where we fall in the spectrum of online sharing. I take that so seriously.
I grew up with a mom who was so dialed in to her children. And I think back often and envy her for the memories we made each day with no iPhone in her hand. In fact, when I was very small the only camera we had in our home was a film SLR camera that frequently had rolls of film where every single photo was blurry. I still love these blurry photos and hang on to them. And it never bothered me that there are gaps of one to six months in our childhoods were there are zero photos taken. We didn’t get a video camera until I was in junior high, so there are no videos of my childhood. Not one. But when I look back at the collection of photos from my own childhood, it still seems like enough to me.
Fast forward to 2017 and many children are documented in photos and videos every SINGLE day of their lives. We live in a different world.
It’s not just childhoods… it’s everything. Have you been to a concert lately? People basically watch it though their phones as they share it to their Instagram stories. I feel so torn about this because it’s fun to watch other people’s lives through their stories, but it’s also sad to be at a concert in a sea of cell phones. And it takes you out of the moment when you’re always worrying about the perfect video or photo to get.
If under-documenting was the struggle for our parent’s generations and the ones before it. Is over-documenting our struggle?
I think about this often because if I’m being honest it’s difficult for me to do anything fun without my phone in hand especially when my nieces and nephews are around. And although I don’t share every photo and video I take of them, they’re the ones that I can’t seem to delete when I clean out my camera roll. These old videos of Penelope singing and dancing as a toddler bring me to tears over and over and over. I’m so happy I have them! I love taking photos and video and I honestly feel like the iPhone is a miracle in our lifetime. It’s such a treasure to have this kind of access to making high quality photos and videos at all times.
That said, I worry that instead of playing with Nova in the park that she’ll remember me chasing her with my phone. And that in every special moment in her life, every milestone, every cute thing she says for the first time that I’ll be pointing the phone at her.
And that’s a frustrating reality. I want to record literally every cute thing she ever does, says, wears or makes. Yet at the same time I want to know how it felt to be my mom, raising kids without documenting every aspect of it. I want to retain my ability to have a fun afternoon, or special moment without taking any photos or video. And most of all, I want Nova to feel seen and watched and listened to the way I did as a child and I worry that I’m not capable of being as attentive as my mom was.
I know I will have to go through a lot of trial and error and learning curve before I find a balance, but I am determined to find that balance.
I’ve made this blog a very personal one, sharing so many stories and feelings throughout our adoption. And I will finish our adoption story after we are home from China and I plan to continue to share my stories and feelings with you. But I’m starting to think about Nova’s stories… and that’s a new perspective for me because they will be her stories.
So here’s my working plan, or really my intentions.
For documenting everyday life I want to try to do like my mom did and get the camera out, take a LOT of photos and then put it away. I want to take photos of our routines and the places we go. But kind of like vacations with Jeremy I think it’s important to have times when I am taking photos and times when I’m not taking any. Bottom line, Nova is going to grow up with a camera/phone in her face way, way, way more than we did. It’s 2017. It is what it is. Acknowledging this and trying to empahtize from her perspective is my first step toward finding balance instead of letting it run rampant.
For sharing Nova’s childhood on this blog or on my personal IG. I think I can come to peace with the idea of sharing beautiful moments in photos or video, but keeping 99% of her stories private. I do want to write them down and I have a place to do that (offline). I hope that by talking less I can protect myself from oversharing and find a happy balance for all of us.
I am so scared. It has felt so good this past year to have the love and support of my online friends and followers. It helped me through some of the most difficult months of my entire life and I think there is so much value to having an outlet. But it also feels so strange to bring little Nova into such an emotionally charged space. We can feel how loved by my internet friends and followers already… fiercely loved! Which is so great… but also so strange because I hope it’s what she would want. But we can’t ask her what she thinks right now, so we are listening to our intuition and having this conversation. It will be a continual one.
Nova- if you read this when you’re old enough to have your own opinions I really hope that you think we were overthinking all of this and not under thinking it. We love you so much and we think about “grown-up you” every day.
12 days until we leave for China!