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Real Life in the Little Years: Unfiltered Moments

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What will my kids really remember from these early years of theirs? 

 

I find myself asking this more often these days, particularly as I scroll through the thousands of photos saved on my phone - each a digital footprint of a moment passed, but not necessarily capturing its full depth.

My wondering sends me back to the hazy camcorder videos of my own 1990's childhood. I've watched them so many times that I think I remember opening up those Sylvanian Families for Christmas, or hosting that pretend baptism for my guinea pig. Really though my 'memories' might just be imprints of those recordings. Memory is indeed a strange, malleable, perhaps immeasurable thing.

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When I started my own Love Mum Project, pregnant with my youngest daughter, I'd researched "Infantile Amnesia" - basically, the phenomenon where our earliest recollections fade as our brains develop and mature. Morbid thoughts were my companions as I worried about dying before Polly would ever have a chance to remember me. She's nearly three now, so thankfully, those fears have passed.
 

In this modern age, will our 'memories' be confused or even contradicted by the digital highlights we curate? I think about how I use my phone's camera album to jog my memory about what I did a week ago. So how might Lightroom filters and social media feeds shape my daughters' recollections of their childhoods?

I want them to know the real stories, not a beautifully crafted narrative. Acknowledging the tough memories is just as important as celebrating the joyful ones, and I believe it is essential for my daughters to understand this real, raw spectrum of life experiences.

For instance, before Daisy’s 'Finding Nemo' themed birthday party, I was a mess - sobbing on the floor from the stress, frantically wrapping the Pass the Parcel minutes before our guests arrived. Yes, I’m smiling in the photos taken an hour later, but those snapshots miss the crucial human moments beforehand.

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This is why I have added the Memories function to The Love Mum Project. Here's the extract from "Daisy's 3rd Birthday Party" - you can see how it stores all the photos and my recollections:

I want my girls to know I've been there when they face their inevitable life (and possibly parenting) challenges, decades from now. Maybe in the 2050s, Daisy will be panicking before her own child’s extravagant party, and her mind her wander to that experience of mine: a reminder that tears and fears are just as natural a part of life’s big events as the smiling photos we cherish afterwards. I persevered, and importantly, I was honest about how hard it was.  

If it's not something to upload to Instagram, that doesn't mean it's not worth remembering. 

I imagine after a child's drawn-out tantrum, it's probably not every parent's first thought how they can preserve the experience. Especially when they're now dysregulated themselves, there's Weetbix cemented to the floor, and none of you have brushed your teeth for 48 hours.

But in a quiet moment of reflection, after my dental hygiene and emotions have been restored, that's the exact thing I do jot a quick sentence about, or add a little voice note to my Project's Memories database, tagging myself and the offending child. I've created category tags like 'Emotions' and 'Overwhelmed' to help organise and retrieve these moments easily later. Of course, I don’t record every tantrum- that would be far too many entries every day! But I do try to make a note when something meaningful arises, or something to learn from. Sometimes I'm proud of how I handled a situation, other times I might feel regretful. Both are perfectly okay. Or else something significant has happened (at least from the child's perspective, like being scared by a large dog) that I suspect might impact them later. 

 

This process is about truth-telling, giving my children insight into the real experiences of their upbringing. Plus, it's cathartic for me - it's like keeping field notes in the ongoing study of who I am, and who we are all evolving into.

Through The Love Mum Project, I hope to encourage other parents to embrace and record the fullness of their family lives - not just for memory’s sake, but for the authenticity that will guide our children long after they’ve grown.

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