I am the crazy mom who takes too many pictures.

I am also the mom who waited way too long to earn the title of mommy, so I feel entitled to those hundreds of pictures.

When the hubby says “There she goes with the camera again,” I just laugh, point, and shoot away. He may duck out of every shot he can, (and groan!) but he gets me. He understands how I want to savor every second, and more importantly; remember these moments when our baby is grown and gone.

If I close my eyes, I can see those chubby newborn rolls and feel exactly how the weight of those nine perfect pounds felt resting on my chest.

If I keep them closed for a minute, I can feel myself rocking that warm bundle to sleep in my arms, or burping him high up on my shoulder with his little bottom sticking out over my arm. But as soon as I open them–the moment is gone again. 

I crash back to reality and the daily grind of simply staying afloat; chasing that once roly-poly chunker around the house as he tears entire rooms apart, squealing with toddler laughter. His chubby, dimpled arms and legs are now long and lean, his round face now boyish and thin.

I love every new stage, and I recognize each change in him as a blessing, but now and then I have to pause and think back. 

Enjoy every second, they all told me, It will fly by. 

Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.

I do miss those baby days terribly, every single day. Everyone was absolutely right–they did fly by. The days were long, but the year was short. I went to bed with a newborn and woke up the next morning with a toddler. 

Even though I do miss those days, I definitely didn’t miss them. I didn’t blink. I savored every snuggle; I let him nap on me instead of in the crib like I should have, and I took too many pictures.

Thank goodness for those pictures.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you take too many pictures. You just keep right on shooting, mama; these are your precious memories.

Which means you alone get to be in charge of them.  

The fleeting moments of motherhood are far too precious to not capture. The available gigs of RAM in my mom-brain (already running slow with sleep deprivation) simply aren’t enough to record everything. What I forget, my many pictures will remember, for me.

I may not do much with them now, but I will soon enough. And they will all be there, waiting for me, when I do get some time back to myself someday. I treasure the thought of the special books I will get to make when I do finally catch my breath. Before I’m ready for it, my baby will be off at preschool, giving me several hours a day to do things like sifting through months of memories to print books full of firsts. They will be full of lasts, too; which makes them that much more important to preserve. 

As hard as I try to take it all in, some of this crazy adventure is bound to get filed away too far back in my brain to remember on my own. This is why I will cherish my too-many pictures, and the privilege of getting to relive the magic all over again. 

When I hear the old saying that the best pictures are the ones we keep in our minds–not the ones we take–I disagree. I want both. 

And so, to whoever tells me to put the camera away–I have just one word:

Smile!

Erika Wilson

Erika Wilson is a writer, artist, and author/illustrator of children's books living in Big Sky country, Montana. The only "she" in a family of six, she is never without inspiration for her writing or her artwork! You can find all of Erika's work and her blog at her website ErikaWilsonBooks.com.