It's no longer about FOMO (fear of missing out); now everyone is succumbing to FOMM (fear of missing a memory)! -- Susan Pearse and Martina Sheehan, Authors
There are many special memories that come with being a parent: the first time your baby walks, talks, laughs, goes to school. In fact every "first" is something you want to capture and bottle forever. But a few years ago I learnt a valuable lesson about capturing memories.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I rushed into my daughter's first kindergarten recital with a similar thrill of excitement as I experienced at my first Robbie William's concert decades before! The performance began, and within a few minutes I reached for my mobile phone and began filming. I don't know why I did it. Perhaps I was following the lead of other parents. Or maybe I had the FOMM (fear of missing a memory), thinking that if I didn't have it recorded, something might be lost.
But as I videoed my daughter, I knew I was viewing a B-grade version of what was really happening. The experience had less color and less life. It was a pale reflection of what was really taking place on the stage. But before I came to my senses and simply put the phone down, the moment happened. My little girl looked up at me, like they do for that reassuring nod of approval. And all she saw was the back of my mobile phone. I put the phone down and vowed to think twice before I did that again.
And I'm so glad I did. For the rest of the night I laughed, I shed tears, we smiled together, and I experienced everything that comes with being fully in that moment. And I saw the gift of my attention in her performance. She beamed with confidence, and those off-key notes became even louder and prouder!
It was the right decision for me and my daughter that day. And don't get me wrong. I still take photos and videos of my kids. There's a time and a place for that. But I worry that the mobile device is too often creating a barrier to the flow of attention. Whether you're a child on your first stage, or a seasoned rock star, it must be a little disheartening to perform to a sea of back-lit smartphones rather than the eager faces of an audience. And FOMM is a trap. Studies verify that you are less likely to lay down a memory of an event when you view it through a lens. Memories are best laid down when you truly experience an event with your own senses.
But most importantly, that day at the kindergarten concert reminded me of one of the most important principles in parenting. Kids need your attention. They crave it, right here and now, in the present moment. Your child will look up at you 30 times times in a half hour sporting match searching for your expression of pride, your smile, your acknowledgement. They thrive under the warm glow of your attention. They also know full well when it's being withheld.
It's school concert time again, so consider this question if you're tempted to pull out your mobile device: Is this the right moment to block the flow of attention? By all means grab a bit of footage, because kids love to see themselves on screen. But remember, the most important moments are those when your attention joins you warmly and gently together in this magical experience of their growing life.
This post was originally published at Mind Gardener.