Sunday, February 8, 2009

Altered perceptions

The picture: My brother and I with my mother. Circa 1981.

Over the holidays, we gathered together at the table one evening and poured over old family photos. It was so much fun and very humbling at the same time. It is so funny to compare the memories we hold in our minds to an actual, tangible record - the indisputable, old-fashioned Kodak color print. My how they differ! There were moments I was in total hysterics and could hardly breathe from laughter, and other moments where the reality of how it really all was struck me deep to my core.

Being a parent, I do more than just match recollections with photos, I look back at the pictures through a filter, comparing my childhood with that of my own kids. Do they look like I did? Do they like the same things I liked back then? Am I parenting like my parents did (and that can go either way, people)? What will they rememeber? What are their high points and low points?

Concerning the picture above, I vaguely remember that vacation. I was six. It was Disney World, a desitination that my family was fortunately able to enjoy more than one time and I have a lot of happy memories from those vacations. As an adult, and hearing the perspective of my mother - these vacations that my father was so keen on taking was in exchange for college educations as it turned out. At least the kind of college educations that parents pay for. He focused on the big childhood moments while my mother stretched the dollar to buy food and clothing for us kids. So, pictures can be misleading, you see. By appearances, we had extravagances, lavish motorhomes and boats, big Christmases, but behind the scenes, our clothes came from garage sales, my mother grocery-shopped with a pendaflex of coupons, we lacked home decor in every sense of the word, etc.

You just never know with pictures.


RealAge22 said...

I really love this picture. Yes, we were certainly middle-classtastic in every sense of the word. As we went through those stacks of photos it really was strange to realize the discrepencies between how I remembered things and places and what the pictures showed me to be the actual reality. Was it the view through our childhood lenses that was "altered" or is it our jaded, adult view that deceives us? I'm not sure..

painted maypole said...

very interesting and thought provoking. I've been thinking (wondering) a lot about what it will be that MQ remembers about her childhood, and what things she thinks of fondly as "home" - I may write a post about it soon

thirtysomething said...

RealAge - little of both I'm afraid. If only we could maintain that childhood innocence and lack of judgement as we age..

Anonymous said...

Yes. It would be something if we could maintain our childhood sense of wonder and imagination too!