By Jessie Peele, author of Cupcakes and Running Shoes
I would be embarrassed to admit the number of pictures I’ve taken of my daughter Cameron since the day she was born.
Hi, my name is Jessie, and I am a picture-taking addict.
I know I have a problem. I know I take too many pictures. Truth is, you’ll rarely see me without my phone in my hand. And it’s not because I’m browsing Facebook or Instagram – it’s because my kid is so darn cute and I want to make sure I’m always ready to snap a picture in every instance of cuteness, and the shutter speed on the iPhone camera is pretty darn good (and as the mamas out there know, shutter speed is key when playing mamarazzi).
I never really understood why people took so many pictures of their kids, posting them to Facebook with captions like, “Look! I used a spoon!” and sending you a four-hundred-and-eighty-seven-picture-slideshow just from the month of February… and then I had a kid of my own. It’s like, you can’t help it – you have a baby and you want to lock up every second of the baby’s life and never forget a breath, a giggle, a tear, a new word, a milestone. So we, as parents, cope with our inability to control the passing of time by taking as many pictures as humanly possible.
Add to that the fact that it usually takes about sixty-five attempts to get ONE picture that’s not too blurry, and we’re constantly playing photographer.
T gives me a hard time about this, telling me to put the camera down, live in the moment – tells me I’m MISSING OUT ON LIFE when I’m too caught up in getting the elusive “perfect picture.” But then, six months later, he’s loving the framed photographs that grace our walls and sit on his desk at work.
It’s a Catch 22, no?
It’s like, you want to soak up every second of your child without taking a minute for granted, but you also want to remember every second…
This is a constant struggle for me – when to put the camera away and roll around on the floor with Cameron, pretending we’re puppies… and when to try to take a picture OF Cameron rolling around on the floor pretending she’s a puppy, because it’s adorable and I always want to remember what she was like when she played with no abandon.
Last weekend we went to a nearby playground on both Saturday and Sunday. The weather was perfect, our family of three had just been reunited after a week of T being out of town, and our little girl loves nothing more than playing outside. On Saturday, I took my phone, but left it on a nearby bench… on purpose. We ran around, giggling, chasing Cameron, sliding down the slide, swinging – it was, my friends, perfection. I will always, always remember Cameron’s hair sticking straight up in the air from the static of the slide – her copying us and yelling, “Boo!” when she peaked around a corner. The way she’d say, “Slide, mama!” and we’d go down two slides side-by-side, holding hands and laughing. The way she’d say, “No!” when we asked her if she was ready to go home.
But I didn’t take a single picture. And when we got home, there was a pang of regret. Because sure, I’ll have the memories, but one day these memories will be hazy as life continues to carry us on – and though we can say, “Hey, remember the time…?” Those memories may be clearer with the help of a photograph.
So Sunday, when we went back to the playground, I had my phone in my hand – I took a few pictures and even videos of Cameron Kate going down the slide, then I put it away. There were still a few photographic moments I felt I’d missed by not constantly being ready to snap a picture – but I felt like it was a nice balance of documenting the moment and living IN the moment.
I guess, like everything else in life, it’s all about balance.
So as a mama-in-training who wants a pause button attached to her sweet Cameron Kate, I’m going to keep working on documenting enough so that I don’t forget while also living enough so that I always remember.