My husband and I planned a near-perfect party to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday. We had all the goods: a nice venue, fun décor, good pizza, cake with lots of frosting and a custom bib. We even hired one of our daughter’s favorite performers from the local book store.
But sometimes the best intentions get erased.
To save money, I decided to rent a fancy camera rather than hire a photographer for the party.
I felt like I was capturing some good shots–some action shots of dancing and cake smashing. I asked friends to use the camera to take photos of me with the baby because I’m rarely in the photos since I’m always taking them.
The next morning, I viewed the images on the camera before downloading them. They looked pretty good. My husband handed me a digital card reader so we could look at them on the computer.
The reader looked dodgy, but I continued.
When my computer failed to read the photos, I stopped. My husband, offering to help, forced the card into the reader. When he handed it back to me, it was bent.
Then time stood still.
I gently retrieved the card and placed it back into the camera. “Card error!” flashed on the camera screen. My heart stopped. The world stopped. This card was dead. The photos of the party the day before–all gone. Every. Single. One.
I was so sad about losing the photos I got angry with my husband. He was only trying to help—but I was filled with resentment that was difficult to shake.
After some time passed, I eased my pain by telling myself that only about half of the shots were good. After all, I was clicking away with abandon. Plus, I needed to forgive my husband because he was as upset as I was.
Trying to capture my daughter’s first party for the future, I forgot to live in the present.
As I replayed the party in my mind, I was there experiencing it with my daughter, but I was also removed because I was taking photos the entire time. When she stole the maraca from her friend or when she bopped up and down with the scarf the performer gave her, I was not really there. I was watching her through a lens.
Forgot to live in the present
In my best effort to capture my daughter’s first party for the future, I forgot to live in the present. My daughter will have one first birthday party, and I didn’t experience it as I should have.
Thank goodness, I was surrounded by a community of friends with smartphones who took photos I lost. Granted, they wouldn’t be focused on capturing my family as I would have—but they would catch the frosted face of my one-year-old.
So, in the end, the lesson I learned is that I should live in the present. And if I really want to capture these special events with a camera, I need to hire somebody to do it.
Elizabeth McBride is the director for intergenerational programs and editor of Café. She loves taking photos of her family and has learned the importance of living in the moment first hand.
Photo of Eilis enjoying her first taste of birthday cake. Photo courtesy of Colleen Walsh, a.k.a Auntie Colleen.