To document, or not to document

As a photographer, I am constantly struggling with the decision to either document the life that's going on around me, or live it. With Cohen, that decision has become a much harder one to make. Is time behind the camera, when I'm with Cohen, actually time away from him? Or, is it time spent preserving memories? Does time behind the camera take me out of those memories? Should I be watching, instead of documenting? Should I be engaging, instead of shadowing? I say a lot of times that my camera is my memory. I'm beginning to believe it.

Cohen is a walking, talking bundle of curiosity. Constantly exploring, eating, touching and pulling things that he shouldn't. He learns new words faster than I can remember them. His favorites at the moment are up and down. he is constantly pointing to the heavens, saying "up, up, up." We are working on please and thank you. He says them, but we are not sure he has any idea what they mean. Cohen is a dancer, but I fear he received his mother's lack of coordination and his father's lack of rhythm. Bananas are his favorite food at the moment. He likes to eat them in two bites, filling his cheeks to the brim with one-half a banana at a time. Sleeping through the night is still a sometimes occurrence, but we are moving in the right direction. He is very easy to put to sleep, but staying that way is another issue. After some colorfully soiled diapers, Cohen is finally realizing that crayons are for drawing and not for eating. His concentration comes in short bursts. He will work intensely on something for about 15 or 20 minutes, then it's onto the next thing. Given the choice, Cohen would be outside all of the time. He is constantly pining "side, side," while pointing out the patio doors to his kingdom, the backyard. Eddie and Cohen still maintain their love hate relationship, exchanging blows every now and then just to let the other one know he's still there. Cohen loves to be read to. He is constantly bringing books to Tana and I. There are not many quiet moments, but, as most parents know, silence means trouble. Most of the time though, when things get quiet you can find him sitting in front of his book shelf reading. Or pretending to read. Or doing whatever you do with a book when you don't know how to read.

Having a front row seat to Cohen's personal evolution swells up all types of cliche ideas about life, love, children and what it all means. But in the end, life is just slivers of time that we cling to and stitch together as memories. We keep them in the closet, for gray days, so that when we look back we can truly believe they happened. Believing our memories, is as honest an act of love as I can think of, and if my time behind the camera contributes to my ability to remember, and therefor love, it is time well spent.