Google Photos does this awesome thing — it automatically uploads photos from your phone cache to your cloud account when you connect to wifi. My husband and I both use this on our phones to keep our storage clear and memories safe.
. . .
Since we got married, I made it my mission to do everything “right”; I would wake up early and make breakfast, do laundry throughout the week, keep everything clean, keep everyone clothed, and make both mental and physical notes of the things that needed to be done to keep our family life sane and running smoothly.
Earlier last year, I found myself at the top of my game — or so I thought. I was vigorously involved in a church ministry that consumed my weekends and many frequent weeknights, I was going to school full-time, I was working a full-time job, and I had a side gig as a photographer. I could “do it all”; everything at home stayed sane enough and I was able to accomplish everything I wanted in just the right amount of time.
One morning, my husband showed me a Google Photos Memory; Google had notified him of different events leading up to this year, and we sat together laughing and “aww-ing” at the photos of our growing boys. As we continued to watch, my smiles disappeared. In almost every photo my husband took, I was seen in the background by myself — on my phone, on my laptop, cooking, cleaning, getting ready to go out — busy.
I pointed this out, and my husband said — “well, yeah. What did you expect? You stay so busy. That’s why I have way more videos of the kids than you do. You don’t ever just spend time with them.”
I had never realized it. Amidst all the busy days and nights, everything that I had been doing for my family, I had barely spent time with my family. My husband and kids had been thrown on the back-burner so that I could get more done.
My kids could have cared less if they wore the same shirt twice. They wouldn’t have cared if I microwaved a meal instead of cooked it. My educational career was great, but it wasn’t actively doing anything for my family — we already had everything we needed: reliable cars, a house to live in, good careers, clothing, and food.
The truth was that we were everything we needed. Not all this other stuff I was trying to improve… just us.
While I had been scrambling to stay sane, drinking crazy amounts of coffee, and avoiding sleep just to stay afloat, my family simply needed me to be present instead of being a million miles away on Achievement Island.
My mind was a blur for the next week. When it cleared, I decided that I needed to do less so that I could actually spend time with my family.
I resigned from my ministry role.
I took a semester off school.
I stopped booking photography gigs.
I simply worked and came home to spend time with my family.
Soon enough, I saw a change in my kids; they were excited to see me and asked me to play with them. They would get super excited when we sat together and just read or watched their favorite movies. They realized that I cared about them.
. . .
Although my to-do list isn’t quite as complete as it used to be, I see myself in Google Photos more. I actually have my own photos to look through and smile at now. I know that sounds silly, but for me, it’s a great achievement because it represents my presence in their life.
I’m not the background noise, not the “too busy” mom, not the “need to get this done” Nancy that I used to be.
Granted, I still struggle to not be that person. It’s a daily struggle, but knowing and acknowledging my presence in my family’s life and the importance of that compared to simply checking things off a list is such a great motivation to live in the “now” and not “tomorrow”.
. . .
Those little ones — they need you. They don’t need all the things; the money, the education, the planning… they just need you to love them and care about them. They need your attention and words. They need your hugs and your protective hands. They need you.
We all worry about tomorrow, but doing so much to ensure it comes is silly. All that we can guarantee is right now, and I’m sure none of us would rather be in the background of a picture.
If one day, my kids grow older and sift through our Google Photos, I want them to see me alongside them in each photograph. I want them to know that I valued them in every moment of every day.
Your memory and legacy will not be the list of things you accomplished, but the moments you shared with others.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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