How Do You Measure a Year?

How Do You Measure a Year?

Ella (age 2) and Jay Rosenblatt

As an empty nester I feel reasonably grounded when I reflect on my approach to raising our daughters. I wish that we had found a way to live abroad at some point. It never felt like the right time, and though my husband had professional opportunities that would have allowed for postings abroad, I did not want to pause my psychotherapy practice. Overseas adventures aside, I have little regret. Correction, I HAD little regret until I streamed the academy award nominated 28-minute documentary How Do You Measure a Year?

Director and father Jay Rosenblatt films his daughter Ella every year, on her birthday, asking her a series of the same questions. What would you like to do when you grow up? How do you feel about our relationship? What are dreams? And so on. An intense range of emotions surged through my experience viewing this super short film. Some moments are so hilariously funny and remind me that no one is funnier than a toddler. Some moments I felt such worry and wanted to make Ella a chocolate milkshake and connect her with a good therapist. Oddly, I became distracted by the sofa’s fabric and felt relieved the year it is reupholstered. Family love infuses each slice of conversation, from a grandmother’s doting interruption to an unexpected burst of song. Most of all, I felt regret that my husband and I did not think to structure a similar annual video tradition to mark the passage of each year.

It’s too late for us, but not too late for others. And I assume that any parents with young children will find surges of inspiration from this magnificent film and will follow through to build similar traditions. But the most important takeaway is not the idea of annual filming, it is the impact of the annual segments, spliced together into less than a half an hour, showing us that it all goes by so lightening fast. How Do You Measure a Year? Hopefully it is measured by cherishing each and every moment you possibly can.

Elisabeth LaMotte

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