I am feeling very sentimental as of late and even more so after one afternoon in my parents’ house when the twins were knee-deep in photo albums of me as a child with my family. Pictures of first trips to Santa, pictures of first holidays and day trips intermixed with random pictures snapped at home with family and friends. My twins were in their element, lying belly down on the sitting room floor pointing out baby Mammy time and time again to me and reminding me of memories long forgotten.
What struck me as my little boy and girl revelled in seeing Mammy as a baby and at the age of three, which is what they are now, playing in the sand one Summer many moons ago, was how little I remember of all those specific times in my early life.
Yet anytime the photo albums have come out over the years, when I looked back, I always felt a sense of love. I may not have remembered the specific occasion or trip but I can recognise in my more mature eyes now, the light in my parents’ eyes in the photos. The tiredness of early parenthood seeps from the faded photo albums, I can literally feel the exhaustion and empathise because I have come to know that exhaustion myself. It is only by becoming a parent that I can look back now through the albums and see the tiredness behind the smiles, but the light from their eyes that I saw from the first time I opened those albums, I still see today.
As a young child looking at the images, I realise now I was caught up browsing through my parents love story, their real life. Pictures long before my brother and I came along showed trips to the beach with groups of friends and siblings. I have poured over these albums so many times of the years and at different stages of my life taken what I needed from them. I was fascinated at how everything is nearly different now then compared to now. My children revel even more in these changes, but the one consistency throughout is that whilst lines have deepened, the smiles and the eyes are as wide as ever.
I loved seeing my parents in their youth, I still thought they were old but it was thrilling to see them as kids, beginning their love affair. My father looked like Mick Jagger to me and my Mam was simply stunning, and still is!
It was the thrill of seeing my family in the fashions of their times and sometimes having to swallow the laughs that threatened to spill at the choices of the 70’s and 80’s for teenagers and twenty somethings. Flared pant and swimming togs with caps that should never have seen the light of day provided endless entertainment. As children we often don’t see our parents as real life human beings, people in their own right but photos award us the amazing opportunity to do just that.
Watching my children now pouring over photos of me as a baby, sitting on Santa’s knee and reacting to their excitement of witnessing that event in my life, only serves me more purpose to keep taking pictures. In the future one day when they are a little older we can begin pouring over our photo albums on a rainy afternoon and possibly laugh at the clothes I not only dressed myself in but dressed us all in! Already they love looking back at their newborn days and revel in seeing Mammy with her big bump, albeit I have had to move swiftly on when they get stuck on asking how they got there!
Whilst there is little before the age of four I recall from these stills of our family life, as a parent I can understand now why myself and the other half have brought our children on day trips, holidays, little adventures. Why we have done so much in their early lives when they won’t remember.
There is nothing more concrete in life than my childrens’ smiles and I want to spend as much of my time here ensuring the smiles slip from their faces as little as possible. Surprises of adventure every now and again add an extra sparkle to their faces and ours. I have filled cameras and phones of images of their tender three years. I have stored many more private moments of our lives in my head, those will never fade. We have also done it for us of course, we couldn’t wait to begin our family life. As everyone says there is nothing more magical than experiencing something new through the eyes of a child and the sense of fulfilment is worth everything to me. I want to make memories for us all to share, some the kids may need to be reminded of but we can relive them through the photos we have taken for them.
I want everyone to turn the camera around and include themselves in photos with their children no matter how tired you feel or look that day. It is all too easy to delete in this age of technology but would you rip up a printed image of a loved on now because they might have a wonky smile on their face? You might actually appreciate it more than a posed image as that is the loved one you know best. The one who has loved you and comforted you all your life. Get in the photos with your family ,pure and simple.
I want everyone to capture what may feel like the mundane stills from family life and store it on print. What makes you laugh or makes your eyes fill the most now when you look back through photo albums? For me, the posed photos are lovely but I smile when I see pictures of me lying on my parents knees as a baby. Pictures of the grandparents and the twins all acting the same age whilst goofing around, are priceless to me.
I want everyone to turn the camera around from selfie (when did that become a word anyway?) mode every now and again and take pictures of their extended families and children.
In years to come when your children are older and come back to the fold to look back on life, you may remember memories you have long forgotten and experience new emotions as you look back fondly through the younger eyes that sit with you as they absorb the story of all those that love them .
We will always store the most precious memories in our hearts but as time and memories fade, photographs have always been there as little reminders of life.