I feel guilty about it. I feel guilty when I see dozens of video cameras wielded by proud parents at milestone events like graduations and parties, and even more guilty when I see those cameras at parks or in front yards, pointed at toddlers just learning to toddle. My friends have boxes of home videotapes and now gigabytes of hard drive space that capture every conceivable event in their children’s lives, from birth to first bath to first day of school to first date, and everything in between.
Me? I have one tape. That’s it. One six hour tape, upon which I have copied all of the video I took with my camera from the day I got it until the day I stopped using it several years ago.
I fear that someday my children will wonder why the mother that took a thousand photographs a year almost never turned on the videocamera….if perhaps they will feel that their proms and plays and graduations weren’t important enough…if they will feel cheated of seeing their important childhood memories once again.
One reason is that I had trouble using both my camera and the much larger (at that time) video camera at the same events. But the most important reason is that I simply couldn’t aim the camera and push “record” – because I knew that someday I would have to watch it.
I love taking photographs, because I can study the details in them carefully and bask in the memories that they invoke. But video is different. It’s so…REAL.
Whenever I watch videos of my daughters’ babyhood and childhood, hear their little voices, watch their chubby legs carry them excitedly toward Christmas trees of the past, see them wobble on their first two-wheelers … I feel so overwhelmed with emotion that I have to turn the player off. It’s almost as if they are right there, as if I could reach out and touch them, and yet I know they are gone forever.
This feeling is so powerful that I remembered it every time I reached for the video camera, and I eventually stopped doing it. I know I should do it anyway, at least for the rest of the family. I suppose that lots of people enjoy watching their family videos without sobbing, but I’ll probably never be one of those people.
I hope someday my daughters realize that the reason there is so little video of them is not because their school programs weren’t sweet, or their antics at home weren’t incredibly cute, or they weren’t adored enough to have their every move filmed. It was because they had a Mom for whom those precious memories were already stored where it mattered most. They will have to be the ones do shoot the videos now.
Given all of this, I still need to save those precious tapes, and so I bought a video-to-dvd recorder that I will be using to do it. Now I just have to figure out how to use it. And maybe, just maybe, I will be able to make myself watch them this time. I’m trying hard to keep this quote in my head:
Don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened!