I have just completed putting together four family photo books (printed albums that look like coffee table books). They are beautiful, filled with memories of high days, holidays and celebrations from Mother’s Day to birthdays, to award ceremonies and special dinners to school sports, the birth of new family members and more. In most photographs everyone is clean, reasonably well-dressed and smiling.
Have you noticed that your photo albums do not capture many of the in-between moments that make up our parenting experience or our children’s childhood? These consist of everyday chores, cooking, cleaning, fetching, carrying, instructions, encouragement, praise, reprimands, discipline, tears, laughter, sulking, shopping, nappy changes, muddy shoes, grazes, fevers in the night, wet towels on the floor, homework, test anxiety, friendship break-ups, trying and failing, persevering and succeeding, and the list goes on.
This is real life. These moments are not always happy and smiley, sometimes they are hard and tiring, hurtful and sad, disappointing and challenging, as well as all the good stuff. These everyday moments, and the emotions that go with them, shape and mould our children. This is the real fabric of parenting and childhood. And most of it is between us and our children, it is not photographed, it is not public.
All our deliberations and choices, our feelings of disappointment, joy and pride, these are things that are difficult to capture in a photograph. Photo’s often miss the process, the journey, and usually only show the end result, and then selectively so as we most often choose the happy endings to showcase in our albums.
Funnily enough when children leave home it is the un-photographed moments of childhood that parents seem to miss, so make the most of each and every one. Childhood is fleeting and doesn’t last forever, and it’s the in-between moments that really count.
“Life doesn’t unfold in a straight line, and our children aren’t computer programs. Parenting is far from a scientific pursuit; it’s messy and risky and a huge leap of faith.” – Dan Allender, How Children Raise Parents
By Nikki Bush, creative parenting expert, speaker and author