As a new mama, I was instantly compelled to try and snap pictures of every second of my baby’s new life. To be honest, I wanted to document every sneeze and blink. The tiny hands, the big brown eyes, the face that looks just like his dad. I wanted to capture it all. And rightfully so. The pride and joy I felt were unmatched. The new mom love I felt and continue to feel eclipsed everything else in my life at the time.
I thought I needed to capture every little thing my baby did so I would have it forever. I wanted to savor each noise and each wriggle. I wanted these precious pictures not just to post on social media for friends and family to dote on the newest addition of our family, but also as sort of a timestamp. I had always heard the phrases “babies don’t keep” and “time is a thief,” but they don’t really sink in until you have a baby of your own.
I desperately wanted to keep every picture I could so I could look back in the coming months and years to watch my sweet baby develop and change. These things are so important, especially to new moms, but they can come with a price if we aren’t careful.
One day, it dawned on me—the more time I spent behind my phone’s camera, the less time I was actually present with my baby.
I was present, of course, physically, but my brain was telling me to move a bit to the left or rattle his toy to get the perfect laugh. I wasn’t really being present. I was so caught up in taking pictures and videos that I was actually missing precious time.
I decided to put the phone down and just be with my son. I noticed so many more little things in person than I ever did behind the lens of my camera. I caught facial expressions and giggles and of course more kisses!
Although I still continue to snap pictures when I can, I try to make it a point to put the phone down and actually spend quality time with my baby, who already isn’t so little anymore.
As he gets older, I don’t want him to look back and say, “My mom documented every aspect of my life.” I want him to remember the storytimes. The dancing around the living room. The homemade play dough. Those are the truly important things. Those are the memories he will hopefully cherish. I want to help him with homework and hug him when his heart gets broken. I want to be emotionally there for every single moment I can.
The pictures are important but they aren’t everything.
The pictures help bring back those memories, but the time can never be regained. Choose the presence over the pictures. Snap a quick picture and trust that it’s enough. Put the phones and cameras down and simply be with your children.
Smell them when you hug them. One day, they will lose that sweet newborn small. Feel their warm cheeks when you give them a kiss. One day, they won’t let you. Listen to that story again or sit down and watch that episode of Cocomelon for the tenth time today. One day, they will be headed out with friends.
I guess the saying is true, babies don’t keep.
So mamas, take the pictures and enjoy them. One day when they are grown and gone, they’re one of the main things you will have to help bring back those memories. But please, please, in the process, don’t let the little moments slip away. Don’t only watch your children grow through a lens.