Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snapshots versus Pictures

Three days after I came home from the hospital with the Baby Bear I saw my camera case sitting on the dining room table and started crying. I have a big fancy camera that Hubs surprised me with one Christmas. Before kids, I would go to the park and take amateur photos of naturey type things, download them, and make him look at what I gifted photographer I was. I loved that camera.

And then Her Highness came along, and every few weeks I would dress her in a casual yet carefully planned cute baby ensemble, and prop her up and take pictures. Most of which were her not looking towards me, so we had a lot of top of the head, the ear, the double chin. I took pictures at every holiday and every milestone. We have SEVERAL thick envelopes of printed pictures. Of course they were meant to be mounted and notated in a beautiful and creative baby book, along with every piece of memorabilia from her young life. (I kept the napkin from her shower, the little card off of her bassinet, and every card from every gift. And the list of gifts. I am kind of a memory hoarder.) Instead the are sitting in piles in a cabinet. Awesome. Add that to my to-do.

Then my camera shutter started messing up. I got it repaired once, but it started doing it again and the camera shop had gone out of business. But I had my phone, so I just took pictures with it, no big whup. When I got pregnant, I started panicking. The good camera was broken.How would I take pictures of the new baby in the hospital? And when his sister met him? And when he smiled for the first time? And then I promptly forgot I was supposed to get it fixed. Because let's be honest, when you are pregnant and have a 3 year old, you are lucky to get out of the house with your shirt on right side out and no stickers stuck on your behind.

When I went into labor I made sure the camera that doesn't work was in the hospital bag. I was taking pictures of my baby, dammit. He was born, and when Hubs went to take a pic of his freshly emerged little face, I was screaming "USE THE GOOD CAMERA" while the midwife stitched me up. He attempted one picture of the Dude whilst being weighed, and it wouldn't work. So he whipped out his phone and snap-snap-snapped away. The first of many iPhone camera pics.

Fast forward to my hormonally charged sobbing over said camera case. I had no "real" pictures of my boo. I felt I had already failed him, and he was only a few days on this earth. There were no memories. I have done what every other parent has done to the second child--not lived up to the bar I set with number one. I was already setting him up for needing therapy about not being loved. *Cue the mommy guilt.*

Except there were memories. Lots of them. Everyday I take a million pictures of this guy. 
With my phone.I am an admitted phone addict, and I always have it. Therefore I always have a camera on my person. I snap pics, delete what sucks, and then save what is great. I email them to the grandparents, and text them to Hubs at work. Gas smiles, snuggles, yawning, pouting. I have gotten it all. My apologies if you follow me on Instagram. Except not really because he is the cutest baby boy that ever lived, so you're welcome. The other day my mother-in-law was thanking me for the latest pic and she mentioned she loved that I send them so often. At that very second, sitting at a stoplight, I had a life-freeing realization. I am doing a much better job documenting the life of this child than I did for his sister. Wha???? 

I'm not propping him up in a well chosen outfit to take 450 pictures of which 3 may be him actually looking at me instead of staring up a the fan, or sagging over like a half filled bag of rice. I am getting pictures of all the little details that make up his life. The other day he laughed at me for the first time (not just fart giggles) and I caught it. He was all wrapped up in his towel after a bath, looking all clean and dewy, and I got it. One Saturday both kids were snuggled up on my lap, and I captured it. I never would have had my big camera at the ready for those sweet little moments. But I had my phone, so they are now mine forever. Why should I feel guilty for using what the technology Gods have provided us? Did cave moms hate on themselves when they discovered paint and could quit chiseling pics of their kids and start drawing them? Doubtful. They did a dance to drums around a fire, most likely. This is my dance-around-a-fire moment.

I am lucky to have the technology that enables me to photograph the details that make up a day. It is not a fake set up picture, it is real life. And that is what I want to remember. Selfies in our pj's at 2 in the afternoon, Daddy and Son taking a nap together, sister feeding her brother for the first time. Hmmm. I am not missing anything after all. In fact, I am getting the best parts and freezing those moments. When my babies are all grown, I will be able to look back and see how happy we were on normal days doing normal stuff. I forgive myself for not living up to my own expectations. I now realize that what I have is so much better. Snapshots of the minutia of life. The best parts, really. 

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