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Why We Post, 'Like' and Instagram Our Kids

Photograph by Getty Images

This last Christmas, my mom gave my brothers, sister and me one of the best gifts I’ve EVER received. It was so good, it even knocked out the former “best gift ever” incumbent—the Kitty Condo which housed my “outside” cat family (3 of us had horrific cat-allergies so they couldn’t be inside). The Kitty Condo was two-levels, carpeted, insulated and heated. It also had a roof you could lift back, like a lid, to check on those little rascals. I was always slightly worried that I was invading their privacy. As much as I liked looking in on that little, feline Ingalls family, I was convinced that one day I would catch them doing something indecent like running an illegal cockfighting ring, cooking crystal meth, or having a swingers party with the neighbor tabbies. I’m pretty sure none of those things ever happened, though.

Yes, as cool as that pet palace was, this year’s gift crushed. My mom had gone a very sentimental route and thoughtfully gave my siblings and me 15 DVDs of our old home video footage, which she had toiled over for hours and days to convert from VHS, and then beautifully edit. These home videos covered over 17 years of our lives; from toddler days through high school graduation. She’d given us hours and hours of documented memories from birthday parties, to family vacations, to high school assemblies, to lazy afternoons in the backyard.

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As we all sat down together and watched these videos, I realized just how amazing this gift was. Sure, most of the footage gave us a good laugh (and by “most of the footage” I mean my bangs; my bangs gave us a good laugh), and of course some of the footage had us in tears. And the videos also renewed my appreciation of my siblings and the way we all got along so well. But more than anything, watching just a fraction of the videos my mom had given to us had me in total awe of my parents. Now that my siblings and I are parents, watching the clips, we were clearly able to recognize just how good our parents were at raising us.

And man, were they good.

They made sure we had these videos, so we could remember what our childhood was like. But they also documented their love and commitment to our family.

They made a big deal of our birthdays. They worked tirelessly to help us memorize lines to school plays and practice dance routines until we had it all down pat. They let us ride dirt bikes. They took us fishing and camping. They swam with us. Rode bikes with us. They let my sister and me dress my younger brother up like the white swan from Swan Lake. They made sure we were close to our grandparents and that we saw our cousins frequently. They laid in the grass and watched the clouds with us. They made us laugh, constantly. They didn’t often lose their cool. And there were FOUR of us, each only two years apart! And it is ALL ON VIDEO.

I’ve always felt love and support from my parents. But watching these home videos made me beam with appreciation for my mom and dad. They made sure we had these videos, so we could remember what our childhood was like. But they also documented their love and commitment to our family. They put their family—their children—first. It is evident in the video and in our lives now.

Needless to say, I am very big on videoing my children. Of course, the urge to do so is ingrained in me. My husband isn’t so naturally inclined to do so. I used to badger him to take photos and film, and he’d mildly protest it. But after watching the videos my mom had given us, he’s changed his tune.

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My husband was not only impressed by my hairstyles and fashion sense through the years, but he was inspired by my parents’ dedication to their family, and that they made it possible for him to get a glimpse into the way we were raised. And, it’s so much easier now with the technology of the iPhone and other smart phone devices. We can easily record video, edit and store precious videos of our children and families. And, if my parents could steady that old-school missile launcher of a camera on their shoulder to get footage, he figures it’s not asking him much to hold up his phone and push the red dot on the screen.

My husband always says, “Just enjoy the moment and remember it in your heart.” And I get that. It’s good to be present and to soak up the moment while it’s happening. But, to have your children, their developing personalities, their moments with us on video that they can watch and show their children when we’re gone, to have the love in our family captured, our love for our children captured, our laughter memorialized, is priceless. My children will watch the videos I have recorded for them one day. I’m not sure how they will react to the weird things I did with them, the songs we sang together or my sick dance moves. But I hope more than anything that they will see what I did when I watched the videos I was given—just how much their parents love them.

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