Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Bottling sunshine

It's hard to believe that the summer holidays are upon us once more. Where did the last term go? In another year, my daughter will have finished primary school - how did that happen? Hardly a day goes by when I don't lament (hand resting on my brow) how my children are growing up too fast. 

Children fishing off a boat
Summer: a time for making memories
As a parent, hemmed in by school timetables, you tend to see the year in a very structured way. Inevitably, the end of the summer term becomes a red, flashing marker for the passing of time.

My children seem to change so fast that I occasionally grieve for the chubby, inarticulate people they once were. In some ways, every day spent is the loss of something intangible. This is compounded by the sense that time is speeding up as I get older (which is possibly a sign of my own mental deterioration rather than any quirk of physics). 


Whereas the past feels fixed, the future is open-ended and a little daunting. There is also the dawning realisation that time will eventually run out. I no longer view the future with the buccaneer confidence of my student days as an undiscovered frontier with infinite possibilities. 


Keeping memories alive


At the BritMums conference last month, I attended a talk by Benjamin Brooks-Dutton, a widower who lost his wife to a traffic accident. His own experience has left him with a sharpened perspective on loss. He told us, "I would be devastated if my child forgot about his mum after everything she did for him." 

This desire to keep his wife's memory alive has driven Ben to document the past through books, photos and even a special box to store mementos. But his focus is not just on the past, but also on appreciating what he and his son have right now. "What will be your #bestmomenttoday?" he asked us. (Being bloggers, we could only think in hashtags.)

The present of course is the thread that connects the past (and therefore our identity) with the paths of the future. So as the summer twinkles past, I am going to try to worry less about time passing and more about creating those best moments. And, if I can bottle a bit of that sunshine along the way in a photo or a diary entry, all the better.