This is my family yesterday in the beautiful medieval town of Rothenberg ob der Tauber. We had a splendid day trip with some friends enjoying the many charms of Rothenberg on a warm sunny day.
I always have a tough time on family outings being torn between my photographer-self and my mom-self. Specifically, to take a picture or to enjoy a moment? As a photographer, I place very high value on a photograph to preserve a memory... not just for my clients but for myself. I want so desperately to remember every little moment and I have this fear that if I don't take a picture I WILL FORGET... but then I have known for a long time that if I always have the camera in front of my face, I miss something else that I can't ever get back: being present in the moment with my family.
I took a lot of pictures in Rothenburg, trust me. (I'll prove it by sharing photos with you in the coming weeks) But there was one moment in particular where I just allowed myself to be drawn in... to just be with my girls.
If you travel with small children, then you know what it means to be tired of bathroom breaks. During dinner in particular, I think we visited the bathroom about 542 times. But there was good reason (besides the obvious.) You guys, this bathroom had a KID SIZED SINK! (Yes, small girls will go to the bathroom 542 JUST for the opportunity to use the kid-sink) But the restaurant was a part of a hotel, and there was ALSO a small fish tank in the hallway on the way to the bathroom, with three kid chairs in front for their viewing pleasure.
It's not easy for me sometimes to believe that being a part of a moment is more important than taking a picture of said moment.
But every once in awhile I get it. And as my girls plopped their tiny tushies into the pint-sized chairs to watch the fishies, my oldest leaned over to the empty chair and patted it for me. So I sat down (on a chair that came up to my shins) and watched a bunch of fish swim around. I put my arm around both my kids and they snuggled into each other and into me. We talked about the fish and what their lives must be like. And I kept to myself the suspicion that these particular fish were destined for the restaurant kitchen ;o) We made fishy faces by squishing our hands into our cheeks as gills and puckering our lips "yike da fish do Momma!"
And I turned a potty-break into a special memory. It's fascinating how those little miracles of life can happen if you just let them. It was important that I resisted the urge to pull out my camera or even my iPod. I just... was. I was there with my kids and I have no photographic evidence of it. I won't be able to put that memory in a photo album, but it will stay nestled into that place in my mom-heart... that place that no amount of artistic photography can capture.
I might forget it. But there are many kinds of memories... I can still smell their sweaty little heads and feel their sticky little fingers after a day of fun adventuring and ice cream eating. I can still see those fish with their creepy eyes and I can still feel the uncomfortable cramped size of that tiny chair.
Sometimes I'm glad I don't pull out my camera. Not only does it force me to stay in the moment, but it forces me to use all my senses to capture the moment. My family deserves that sometimes.