08 Sep A Moment in Time
It’s easy, even second nature for us to document the big milestones of our lives and the lives of our children. Especially the celebratory ones. The ones that you watch and wait for; first steps, first day of school, birthdays, graduations, leaving for college (oof!). But what about the unexpected milestones that are less about known quantities and more about something intangible? The ones that are the internal markers of transitions or external declarations you make that only you might recognize as turning points or small moments of big growth or change. What about those moments in time that feel like the defining moments?
Over the years I have created a personal philosophy that every moment is worth documenting, “ordinary” moments included. Heck, I wrote a whole book about it and created a career, thus far, around it. Because I believe it. Everyday moments matter and are certainly worth documenting because, for one of many reasons, they are often the moments we will want to remember. I don’t think many would argue that collecting and keeping reminders of our lives—for ourselves and for our families—is an important pursuit and one I practice daily. Mostly in pictures. And even still, I’m learning. What are the most poignant moments worth marking? Which are the personal milestones that should be captured because of their significance to us or to our children? Just when I thought I had it figured out, I had an unexpected light bulb moment.
Over the past year, I have been working on a few significant projects with some wonderful people. One that has to do with photography and one that has to do with tween-aged girls, neither of which topics would be a surprise to anyone (these things have been among my passions for what seems like forever). The surprise has been in the intricacies of each of these projects there have been HUGE personal and professional revelations. It’s as if every day I’m discovering things, ideas, truths (some I have known, others I have not) in a new, more meaningful way. I’m defining it as a deepening. My thoughts around all of this are still being formed (mostly because it’s happening in real time) so it’s hard to write about but I’m keenly aware of it. I can feel it vibrating in every cell.
One of these revelatory moments came when I was agonizing over a decision my daughter was conflicted about making in regards to her extra-curricular schedule. The pressure, the pros & cons, the consequences, the risk! Anyone with children that pour their heart and soul into the things they do and the activities they love and have systems and structures they’re expected to follow, knows how hard and overwhelming it can be to make it all work. Even though the pending decision was/is very significant (aka all-consuming), when I brought it up with colleagues at a work meeting, I prefaced it as perhaps seemingly insignificant. The only reason I brought it up at all was it seemed relevant to something we were discussing. What followed was extraordinary. These are the highlights of the conversation that I most needed to hear:
- It’s not insignificant (which I knew in my heart but didn’t think anyone else would understand).
- It’s a huge thing (again, yes, I felt it).
- The process itself—the agonizing, the weighing of options, the back and forth, the examining of possible outcomes, the exploring of emotions—is as important as the decision itself (I hadn’t thought of it but, isn’t that the truth?).
- How we process this together, is a defining moment for us as a family (reminding me of the importance of being mindful/careful of how I move through it and what I am teaching my daughter in every step).
- This, all of it, is a defining moment for my daughter; both in the process for sure but more specifically in her decision (gulp).
The 24 hours that followed she went from being totally overwhelmed and unable to make any decision to being very clear, confident and resolute in what she needed/wanted to do. I watched the progression, saw her wheels turning, felt her push and pull, and experienced her emotions through it all. And in the end, it seemed more significant to her that she actually made her decision, than what her actual decision was. She later declared that she felt it was one of the biggest decisions she had ever made. If that’s not significant, I don’t know what is.
So, now what? There’s no ending to this story. It continues to be a process of how she/we handle her decision moving forward. There will be challenges, no doubt because she’s decided to do something a little out of the norm and forge her own path. And she feels the fear that this risk—this unknown—brings, but she is doing it anyway. What I am realizing now (thanks to the insights from the conversation sited above) is that THIS moment, THIS decision will likely serve as a touchpoint for her. Because stuff rides on it. As often is the case with the decisions we make. What is important is recognizing that THIS is a defining moment for her; what it looks and feels like to be true to who she is and to make decisions accordingly. With that, there’s trepidation, exhilaration, and resolve all at the same time. It’s big stuff for a 13 year old. And with the urging of my friends and creative partners, I got out my camera so she will never forget the power she feels within herself right now at THIS moment in time.
These are the days, mamas. Let’s witness and capture them the best we can.