You know that scene in the legendary television show The Office at Pam and Jim’s wedding when they make those mental camera clicks? (If not you might want to click over for a sec to check it out. It’s darling. Just don’t get sucked into watching more fantastic Office clips or you’ll never come back to these words. Or have a life.)
I think of that often in my parenting journey. The camera is out a lot. This is how my generation parents. Always clicking. But there are those times, when I’m emotionally healthy and something great happens. And my phone just isn’t handy. Or maybe it is and some angel on my shoulder nudges me to just look. With my eyes not my lens. With my heart actually. Like that time he reached for her hand when they were playing at the park. Or that time she performed an impromptu magic show. Or that time we had such a bad day and then he wrapped his arms around my neck so tight and whispered “I just love you so much.” Click. Click. Click.
Sometimes I forget to pause, or probably more often than not I missed the moment all together. But sometimes I am given a gift. And I blink my eyes. My mental camera clicks. The one that connects my heart to my head.
Sometimes I wonder how strong my photographic memory actually is. Is it as sophisticated as the time hop app? Or Facebook memories? Will I be able to recall it a year later, two years later, 10 years later? On those hard days will it be there waiting for me like the Instagram feed? Ready and waiting to remind me of the sweetness of life? Maybe not. Or maybe not as focused.
Something tells me it lingers in the heart. Those mental exposures may be blurry. But the essence will be there.
So just as a photographer must learn to use her camera, find the light, be ready for the right moment, I am trying to practice more of these mental camera clicks. The images on the screen are wonderful. But my heart needs more mental clicks. And more mental clicks just might lead to better quality photos. The photos of the heart that is.
The photo above is one of the digital kind of pictures. One I will always have to look back on. Remember when they were so tiny and sat together just creating their own songs? How cute that was!
But when I clicked the mental camera I remembered how nice it was that they were playing together. I remember how just that morning I was so frustrated by the constant sibling battles back and forth. And I am reminded how sweet it is that they are growing and learning how to be good humans together.
And when I am sitting with my kids one day when they are in the their thirties and all growed up (sob sob sob), we won’t be talking about the ridiculous spats, the tears and the tantrums. Those moments didn’t make it behind my mental camera lens. Those got lost on the cutting room floor. Instead, we'll talk about how happy it made me feel when they got along so well. Because that photo up there, and others that may follow, was snapped and saved in my heart.
That's the kind of emotional picture album no Instagram can ever replace.