Dear child,

When you grow up and stumble upon pictures from your third birthday, you might see yourself eagerly blowing out candles on your Paw Patrol cake. You might see the pictures of you twirling and laughing in a whirlwind of bubbles in our backyard. 

You might not notice, but the reason you don’t see me is because I was behind the camera as you blew out those candles, and I was in the background eagerly blowing bubbles for you to dance in.

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And as I watched you blow those candles and as I blew those bubbles, time froze for a minute as I thought about how there was no place I’d rather be than basking in your joy in those precious moments. 

I may not be in all the pictures or videos of those special times, but I hope one day you’ll know that’s because I was just absorbed in the wonder of you.

I was lost in the deep joy that comes from loving someone so much that you forget yourself, only to have your heart filled to the brim rather than emptied.

I hope someday you know this type of selfless love that leaves you feeling more full the more you give it away.

I’ll try to preserve the memories of your childhood well, but I hope that behind the pictures and posed smilesand all the photo books I never even got around to creatingyou’ll remember a life of genuine joy that no camera could adequately capture.

I pray that all the good times will help shape you into an emotionally healthy adult who brings a glow to the world. And I pray that the hard times not captured in photos will strengthen your resilience and perseverance so you can see the light and be the light when it’s darkest.

There are many moments when I need time to refuel to have more of myself to give. Because investing in another soul can be both draining and rewarding. But I hope there’s never a time when I take the blessing of you for granted.

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So one day when I’m gone and you look through these old memories and maybe wonder where I was, just know I was in the background, trying imperfectly to make your childhood magical, meaningful, and memorable.

Trying to pour love into your heart, hoping and praying to instill values in you that would outlive me and reach eternity.

Because you are worth the investment. You are worth the sacrifice of sleep, the birthday party planning and cleaning up, the carpooling, the late nights spent listening to whatever’s deep inside your heart, and so much more never captured by a camera. I feel so privileged that I get to be the secret-keeper, the storyteller, the picture-taker, the memory-maker. I get to be the one with a front-row seat in your childhood. And that’s a gift I pray I never take lightly. 

So as you look back through these memories one day, I hope you know I was there, seeing you. And as your mother, there’s no place I would’ve rather been.

Stephanie Kramm

I'm a wife and mama of four lovable boys who make life a constant adventure. I enjoy music, art, and rare quiet moments in nature with a book and some chai. My Master’s is in counseling and I am passionate about advocating for at-risk women and children around the globe. I’m a contributing writer for the facebook pages Snips & Snails & Warrior Tales and this mere breath.