Thursday, August 27, 2015

On the last night of my eight-year-old son's summer vacation, I scan my memory - and my Instagram feed - to see if it was enough.

If we had "enough" fun. If we made meaningful memories. Whether we had the right ratio of enriching experiences to lazy afternoons, whether we kept up with his reading practice and whether we blew off his 8pm bedtime enough nights that he felt like he was getting away with something slightly illicit.

I'm pleased to say I think we pulled it off, my little family and I, and the lovely people with whom we shared this summer's fleeting days.

Looking back through the hundreds of images I captured since June, I savor the experiences once more. That afternoon in Rhode Island, when my college friend Cait turned around my son's crabby mood with a hands-on look at fish eggs pulled from a salt pond. The moment in the pool in Boston when Jake's feet left the bottom and he swam a few strokes. The way my husband's hand looked pressed to the window of the train as he said goodbye to me in Connecticut and returned to DC to work for a few days. The piney smell of my parents' backyard wafting in through the window of my childhood room.

One of the things I love most about social media and digital photos is that it's possible to create with them an immediate, accessible, shareable record of experiences that might once upon a time, in paper form, have slipped into photo-album sleeves and languished, soon to fade into oblivion as the next year's experiences overwrote the current batch.

To me, these 21st-century tools are a reminder to remain alert for the pebbles of beauty skittering into our path every day.

Nope, I didn't take or post pictures the morning my son skinned his elbow badly or the afternoon Ari and I argued about something stupid or the night I realized a friendship I had cherished was beyond repair and I couldn't precisely say why or when it had died.

You could argue, I suppose, that herein lies proof of the vacuousness of social media, of the lie it makes possible, of the human tendency to curate our feeds in a way that makes our friends think everything is, at all times, just splendid, thanks.

It's not, of course. It's not, and that's perfectly okay.

Because the device I'm typing this post on with my thumbs gives me a means to capture all the wonder that *was* there, and to commemorate it in spite of the painful stuff we must accept as part of the deal.

In recent days I feel a catch in my throat when I note the different slant of light across the living-room wall. But a few clicks and taps through my device - over to my Facebook wall, for example, to see what my mother-in-law had to say about the golden afternoons at the lake near her house, or to recall the look on Jake's face when he tasted that frozen lemonade - reminds me that it *was* enough, even when summer comes hurtling to its bittersweet end far sooner than any of us would like. It was more than enough - and the proof is here in my hands.


Amy Rogers Nazarov, Writer and Barker Parent