In my possession, I have just one baby photo proper of myself: The work of a commissioned photographer, I’m about two months old and plopped atop a knitted blanket. I’m wearing a homemade dress, white with red polkas dots, plus matching booties. I look very concerned and a little suspicious of the Sylvester the Cat doll leaning at my side. My eyes are wide and nervous. “This is not my doll,” they say.
By default, it’s my favourite baby photo. Come Throwback Thursday, it’s pretty cute and does the job just fine. The next week, I come up pathetically empty.
Not so for my little one. Though I try my hardest to be present and live in the moment, also in most every moment is my iPhone.
Minutes after her birth, we documented via photo of course. In the days that followed, and all while still recovering in a hospital bed, there’s a selfie with exhausted Mommy, an extreme close-up of a wrinkled baby foot, a NSFW, first feed, mid-latch. There she is on the way home (baby’s first cab ride!) and in her bassinet (her first swaddle!) and, ooh, look, her little finger is in her little mouth!
When I look at my photo history, it’s as if a stranger stole my phone that day—an obsessive mom, no less—and began fervently documenting every minute of every day. Some pics get texted to grandparents, aunts and uncles, a rare irresistible few get uploaded to Facebook or Instagram, but what about the rest? What am I possibly supposed to do with 12,320 photos (and counting)?
This resolution season, I could add this top-notch momming to a never-ending list of tasks that need doing. I could upload and order hard copies, filling my house with boxes upon boxes of snapshots. I could diligently sort them and make a scrapbook. I could order magnets or mugs or tea towels. I could fall down a Pinterest rabbit hole and never come back.
But let’s be honest: I’m busy and already tired and don’t have time for any of those things. Probably because I spend too much time on my phone.
So instead, this January, I’m pivoting as far away as possible from “Mom stays in the picture” with “Good riddance! Baby’s also out of the picture.” Then I’m going even further and not taking a photo at all (uh, most of the time).
The goal is twenty years from now, rather than passing on thousands of photos—plus the same problem I’m having right now—I’ll instead share a wealth of memories. To do this, I need to live the moment rather than just capture it. And when she tells me her earliest memories, which will start forming any day now, I don’t want them to be pushy Mom in her face with a camera. In our case, contrary to what you’ve heard, a thousand photos are not worth a single memory shared.