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Memories Can't Wait

My daughters’ childhoods are shoved into plastic boxes in a closet, scattered on Facebook and Instagram, stored in my phone and laptop, and frozen in a video cam I haven’t operated in years. 

When they were born, I dutifully photographed and printed every momentous moment, storing the photos in shoeboxes with dividers noting each year. I told myself I was waiting for that rainy, slow day when I would create a photo album.

That was 14 years ago.

How many family photo albums have I made? 0

This is the source of BIG MOM GUILT. 

When I was a child, I loved paging through the photo albums my mother dutifully crafted, documenting locks of hair, birthday party invitations, all those “first” photos, holidays, family vacations, graduations. When I visit her, I still love looking through those yellowed pages and old Polaroids and Instamatics. I know I was too young to remember all of the events in those creaky family albums, but the photos have turned the moments into rock-solid memories. 

How on earth am I going to preserve the printed and digital mess I’ve made of my kids’ lives? What am I going to hand my grandchildren? A hard drive? 

Even if I get organized enough to edit, archive and curate all of the images, who’s to say the backup files I create will be accessible 20 years from now, when technology has made my flash drive and storage media obsolete?

I know this generation doesn’t have the same attachment to paper that I have. My kids are just as happy discovering old pics and videos on our kitchen computer. Looking at photos online is the new normal. I may want to touch; all they want is the touch screen.

There are not a lot of studies on the issue, but a recent poll in England found that only 25 percent of adults now keep their photos in albums. Only 13 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have ever used an album.

Do I give up, ditch the prints and tell my kids to go find their old photos in the cloud? How do you preserve your family memories?