We train ourselves to think of the momentous occasions as the ones to memorialize: birthdays, graduations, anniversaries. By viewing life as a series of bridges between islands we deny ourselves the reality that life is every small step, every moment in between big events. My son had his first meal last week and we captured every grimace, spit-out food, and sloppy grin with the cameras.
While the pictures may isolate this event, my heart tells me it’s the small moments once the cameras are away that will endure. Last night I fed him again while my daughter capered about the perimeter laughing at his messy attempts and confusion at eating solid-ish foods. When I am old I won’t remember the first time he ate but I’ll remember swooping in a spoonful of rice cereal and avocado, watching him furrow his brow as he tested how to chew with no teeth.
Each day I must force myself to disengage from the patterns of life and be attentive to the least momentous occasions, the requests to butter a piece of toast that are expressed in a fake English accent, the boy catching my eye as he bounces in his swing, his arms flapping with pure joy that shimmers in his gaze and makes me forget what I’m doing. I won’t remember my daughter’s first time swimming the length of the pool but I’ll remember her frozen in mid-air, a thousand suns refracted in water droplets flung from her limbs, an expression of thrill and trust as she leaps from the lip and towards her father knowing that she will be caught.