Documenting life in the digital age

Be prepared, this post is a little sappy and a whole lotta cliche.

My grandma Elaine passed away in September 2007.  She was the best. That's all you need to know. Well, I mean I could go on forever, but I bet you have your own awesome grandmas. Anyway, I wasn't prepared for her departure and began dreading fall. And the end of summer. And then the middle of the summer because that led to the end of the summer which led to, you guessed, it fall.

Then we had Ellis. All 6 lbs 13 ounces of him on August 29, 2010. I always say  EK was born on August 28 and then Mr. Swirley slaps his forehead because I don't even know my own kid's birthday. I like to think that I am just trying to give the child a half- birthday instead of robbing him with that August 29th BS. But I digress. Last year marked Ellis'  second year on this planet, and not only did I not dread the arrival of fall, but I actually forgot the anniversary of  Big Red's (you can't call her that, only us) passing...until I looked at  a calendar. Talk about a crazy ball of guilt mixed up with relief.  And I know she was totally cool with it.

And while having this guy wreaking havoc  filling our days with joy and marshmallows  definitely dilutes a lot of the past's sour notes,  I am already waxing nostalgic for the future. Does that make sense? Like I am currently making myself sad imagining his first day of kindergarten. Two years from now. And I do enjoy the now, I do. But I just don't understand how everything seems to simultaneously take forever (POTTY TRAINING, anyone? Jaysus!)  while  flying by so quickly that I find myself panicking when I can't remember when Ellis stopped curling his legs underneath him like a tiny, newborn chick.  I miss him and he is upstairs, covered in books and snot with his face nestled into his beloved owl quilt. A few weeks ago, I informed Mr. Swirley that someday we would be able to read a whole book and then, in the same sentence, started wailing about how EK is moving out in 15 years. So that makes sense.

Queue the photos. All 10000000000000000000000000 of them. You think I am joking. No, no you don't because you know much I over-document every single activity. Oh, your first time with a sippy cup? Let me take pictures from every single angle PLUS a jumpy video. Then I will back it up on not one but TWO hard-drives so we can hold on to  little memory-pop forever.  Now do that for everything. EVERY.SINGLE. THING for the past 1051 days and you have complete (digital) insanity. If I took advantage of Snapfish's penny prints deal (those bitches always get you on shipping), I would estimate it to cost approximately my life savings to print every single photo taken of my child. Just kidding. More.

I can't actually look at all of those photos, so I decided to make a three minute video of Ellis from day one to day 1095 of his life to reminisce and make myself cry. So far I have failed in that I used three minutes to only cover year one, but I still have a few weeks to pare it down. And yes I know the video is rudimentary, but I get to hear his laugh over and over again - and my voice at its kindest. At this stage in his development, I need those reminders.

How are you documenting life? How do you sort out the precious memories from the not-so-precious-but-don't-have-the-heart-to-delete-them-moments? And most importantly, do you keep a special file of embarrassing photos to show future son/daughters-in-law? Because  I would never do such a thing.


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    Annie Swingen

    Chicago-based hyperbole enthusiast. Mom to a kid and sometimes my mom. Overboard (1987) obsessed weirdo. I like the funnies in life.

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